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From today, Monday July 6, all new driving licences issued in England, Scotland and Wales will carry an image of the Union flag.
The same applies if you change your personal details, such as your address or name – the Union flag will adorn the amended licence you get back from DVLA. It will be shown alongside the European Union’s star symbol, which is already shown on existing licences.
The development was unfurled in January by Claire Perry, transport minister, who put a patriotic spin on the move: “People in this country rightly take pride in our national flag, which is why I am delighted it will now be displayed on British driving licences,” she said.
But not everyone in the constituent parts of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is happy with the move, which was conceived in the heady days of pro-Unionist fervour following the ‘No’ vote in the Scottish independence referendum
In Wales, for example, more than 5,000 people signed a petition, supported by Welsh independence party Plaid Cymru, calling for licences to be kept in their current form or to feature the Welsh flag instead.
Arfon Jones, a Plaid Cymru spokesman, said: “This is just a further attempt by Westminster to create a British identity by social engineering. We should resist.” And in Northern Ireland – where, let it be said, flags are massively potent symbols – the plan has caused strife because ministers at Stormont have chosen to keep the Union flag OFF motorists’ licences.
So what do you think?
Do you reckon putting the Union flag on driving licences is a good idea, or should the licence have remained neutral territory (if flying the EU flag can be considered neutral these days)?
Should drivers in Wales, Scotland and England have their own flag, or the flag of their choice?
And is that what we do in Northern Ireland – let people choose? Man alive, not an easy one, this.
Maybe the cost and complexity of catering for lots of preferences would be such that we simply have to decide between union flag and no flag after all…