Whitehall passport row

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A dispute between the Home Secretary and the Foreign Secretary is threatening to delay plans by Robin Cook to give full British passports to about 150,000 people in some of the most exotic island colonies, including volcano- hit Montserrat, the Caymans and Bermuda.

The disagreement between Jack Straw and Mr Cook over details is likely to prevent Mr Cook making the announcement he had hoped to deliver on 4 February in a speech to the Dependent Territories Association. Mr Straw intervened and insisted granting passports to thousands of people living in the dependent territories was a big step which required more detailed negotiations. Mr Cook says it is unlikely those given British passports would want to come to this country.

He is refusing to concede defeat and is expected to win the battle.