The Brexit campaign pledged that the UK would “take back control” of its businesses and borders. However, it has now emerged that a foreign company is on course to beat a British one for the contract to make new passports.
The Home Office has reportedly stripped UK company De La Rue of its long-standing contract to produce the nation’s identity documents. It’s understood the task is likely to be assigned to Gemalto, a firm listed on French and Dutch stock exchanges. It will make £450 million ($637 million) from the lucrative contract.
Changing the color of British passports from the EU’s favored burgundy to the UK’s traditional blue was held up by some Brexiteers as a bold sign of returning national sovereignty. The news has angered pro-Leave politicians, with former cabinet minister Priti Patel dubbing it “a disgraceful decision” and “perverse.”
Liberal Democrat Brexit spokesman Tom Brake said: “The blue passport saga is turning into a farce. First, it was established that we did not have to leave the EU to have blue passports. Now, we learn that the passports will be printed by a foreign company. And to add insult to injury, we will pay over the odds for them because the value of the pound has fallen since Brexit and they will have to be imported.”
The public took to Twitter to mock the move and point out the irony of outsourcing the contract to ‘restore British sovereignty’ to a foreign country.
Taking back control. But not, apparently, the ability to print our own passports.
Brexiteers furious as Franco-Dutch company poised to win contract to make iconic blue British passport https://t.co/prqHomfK7w
— Diane Abbott (@HackneyAbbott) March 22, 2018
Surely I’m dreaming. British passport post Brexit taken away from Gateshead uk company and awarded to France! The irony of it. Feel for workers in Gateshead.
— josephine coyle (@foodiecommuter) March 22, 2018
The making of the post Brexit British Passport was awarded to a French company. Tally Ho, this keeps getting funnier (tragic as well) by day. #Brexit
— Cristi Datcu (@cristi_datcu) March 22, 2018
On Wednesday night, the Home Office insisted that no final decision had yet been made on where the new passports would be printed. A spokeswoman said: “We are running a fair and open competition to ensure that the new contract delivers a high quality and secure product and offers the best value for money for customers.
“We do not require passports to be manufactured in the UK. A proportion of blank passport books are currently manufactured overseas, and there are no security or operational reasons why this would not continue.”
Theresa May told the House of Commons in February: “It is right that from autumn 2019 we will issue new blue and gold passports, which have always been the UK’s colors of choice for our passports. It is absolutely right that, after we leave the European Union, we return to deciding the color of passports that we want, not that the EU wants.”
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