Drivers who display national flags face a £60 fine and also could find they fail an MoT test because of an illegal number plate. It is thought thousands of motorists have chosen number plates with their country of origin flag, but exact numbers are not known.
Jim Fitzpatrick, a transport minister told MPs of the restrictions when replying to a parliamentary question from Bob Spink, a the United Kingdom Independence Party's only MP at Westminster.
According to Mr Fitzpatrick regulations which came into force seven years ago only allowed the display of the European Union symbol of 12 yellow stars on a blue background.
Mr Spink, MP for Castle Point, raised the issue after being contacted by motorists who had been fined for displaying national flags.
Many people were unaware of the regulations. He said: "No one believed it. This is outrageous.
"Europe is gathering around itself the trappings of a country because only countries can have a flag. Europe is becoming the country and Britain is just a region. This is just not acceptable."
Well done Bob for asking the question in the House and getting the answer.
But, but, couldn't this story be taken further? Well, actually, yes it could, for we'd had a contact from a party supporter asking us about this law. His daughter had just been given a ticket for having a Cross of St George on her plate. Surely this wasn't right, was it?
Sadly, as above, I had to tell him that it was, that really is the way the law is (badly) written. But did he think that his daughter would be interested in talking to a newspaper about it?
You know, show the ticket, show the number plate with distraught maiden etc etc. Yes, me too, we can all think of several papers which would love just such a story and indeed we had one raring to go. Something on a Sunday it was, large circulation sort of thing, would have been great.Sadly, the young lady in question (and there's certainly no blame attached here, keeping clear of the hounds of the press is usually a good move) decided that her employers might not be all that keen on her appearing and thus declined.
So, err, that's one of the things a press officer does. Expends great effort to get nothing at all achieved. Just so you know like......