The AA has become embroiled in a row with the Government over a new requirement for drivers to scrap the "GB" logo from their number plates.

From September, motorists will be required to replace signs needed when travelling abroad on vehicles registered in the United Kingdom from "GB" to "UK".

The change is the second in nine months after Grant Shapps unveiled a new design with GB under the Union flag instead of a circle of EU stars on Jan 31, to mark the first anniversary of Brexit.

The move is said to have left number plate suppliers "in the lurch" and potentially out of pocket, amid fears they may have to wait up to six months to order in new "UK" versions while stocks of GB stickers are now essentially worthless.

Edmund King, the president of the AA, described the decision to scrap the "famed" GB logo from number plates as a blow to Britain’s motoring heritage.

"From a heritage point of view, we have lots of classic cars, such as jaguars, spitfires, and so on, that have metal GB signs on the rear of the car. Now I don’t propose that they take them off but what they will now have to do is have a tacky plastic UK sticker alongside it.

"So from a historic perspective, we have lost the tax disk on the windscreen, and we are now losing another element of British motoring, the famed GB sticker," he told The Telegraph

Mr King also noted the switch in signs could have a detrimental effect on the environment as plastic stickers were not easily recyclable. 

"What can you do with a used GB sticker? Maybe Wetherspoons can use them as beer mats or we can sell them to anyone with the initials like Gordon Brown or Gareth Bale, but that’s a very niche market," he added.

The history of the number plate

According to Government sources, the change from GB to UK was made to be "inclusive of Northern Ireland" which it is hoped could mend relationships after the region found itself at the centre of a so-called sausage war between Britain and the EU.

Mr King said it was still possible to keep GB stickers despite the concerns by introducing a NI sticker for Northern Ireland or a "GBN" logo to include the province. 

He said: "Basically, we were told at Christmas post Brexit that the GB would be the symbol to have on your car. So the problem was that we advised people to stock up with GB stickers. For the AA shop alone, they stocked up on about 50,000 stickers.

"The worst of that is that they have Euro travel packs and French travel packs already pre-packed so frankly, just from an economic point of view, the fact that this change has to come about by September gives them no time.

"Obviously since lockdown, they haven’t been able to sell many stickers anyway because no one has been travelling abroad. So in terms of that, they might have to retool.

"We might be seeking compensation from the government on behalf of some of the suppliers because they are being left in the lurch."

An AA member is believed to have made the discovery by accident while searching for a piece of UN legislation. It’s understood the Government made the change last week.

According to current Government rules, drivers must display a GB sticker on their vehicles if the number plate does not include the GB identifier with Union flag, while motorists in Spain, Cyprus or Malta, must display a sticker regardless.

The Department for Transport has been contacted for comment.