Made in France? Britain's next passport won't be made in UK

Anna Jefferson
March 25, 2018

The head of pro-Europe campaign group Best For Britain, Eloise Todd, said: "The new the pro-Brexit blue passports were supposed to be a statement of intent and now we find out they are to be made by the French or the Dutch".

"The UK is taking a leading role in the global fight against corruption, including cracking down on the use of shell companies to launder dirty money by buying up some of London's prime real estate", Andrew Griffiths, a junior business minister said in a statement.

According to the Guardian, a Home Office spokesperson said that no final decision has yet been made.

The Brexiteers claim to want free trade deals around the world, but the government's decision to award the passport contract to French firm Gemalto instead of the UK-based De La Rue in a standard tender procedure has caused nationalistic uproar.

De La Rue boss Martin Sutherland said it was "disappointing and surprising" that "this icon of British identity" would be manufactured by a foreign company.

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He added the move amounted to "offshoring the manufacture of a British icon" because new passports would be "manufactured in France".

Mr Sutherland said it was unclear whether jobs at the firm's Gateshead factory would be affected.

The contract is believed to be worth around £490m, and Gemalto is estimated to have undercut De La Rue's big by more than 10%. Only domestic suppliers could bid under French procurement rules, he said.

A British company which is thought to have been in the running issued a profits warning this week.

On Thursday morning, the shares were down by a further 5.7%.

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The announcement was greeted by pro-Brexit supporters as an important symbol - and derided as a pointless gesture by campaigners who had fought and lost the 2016 referendum to keep Britain in the 28-nation European Union. "The return of our iconic blue passport will re-establish the British identity", former cabinet minister Priti Patel told The Sun.

"If the best thing the Government can come up with about Brexit is that we can change the colour of our passports to me that just speaks about how much chaos there is". The new passport production contract starts in October 2019.

"All passports will continue to be personalised with the holder's details in the United Kingdom, meaning that no personal data will leave the UK".

The Home Office issues more than six million passports annually and is the only provider of passports to British citizens living anywhere globally.

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