Tory fury at EU plan to scrap royal crest on passport

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The European Union was accused by Tories yesterday of embarking on an "absurd scheme" to abolish the royal crest on British passports.

The European Union was accused by Tories yesterday of embarking on an "absurd scheme" to abolish the royal crest on British passports.

A European Commissioner had suggested an EU passport, bearing the 12 yellow stars of the European flag, replace the British passport with the Queen's crest, the reports said.

Francis Maude, the shadow Foreign Secretary, said: "The passport is a symbol of the nation. The EU is trying to give itself another of the trappings of statehood. This is an absurd scheme." He said the Commission should be concentrating instead on weeding out "corruption and incompetence".

Antonio Vitorino, the EU justice commissioner, has suggested a new "euro-blue" passport be issued to citizens of all member states as part of a wider reform of travel documents. His spokesman said: "It is possible that national symbols will be abolished so that the passport could just have the European stars on the front."

Downing Street said it would resist any change to the United Kingdom passport but said the EU had not issued a serious proposal to abolish the Queen's crest. "We would have strong reservations about any change to the format which is already EU compliant," a spokesman for the Prime Minister said.

Keith Vaz, the minister for Europe, said he would be "opposed to a change in the format" but added that, although the idea of such a passport was being circulated, it "has not yet been accepted by the EU as a proposal".

A spokesman for the Commission said there had been talk about improving identity documents to prevent fraud but added: "There is no proposal from the Commission to replace national symbols on passports with the 12 stars."

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