LONDON (Reuters) – The new blue British passports that Prime Minister Theresa May referred to as “an expression of our independence and sovereignty” after Brexit might be made by a Franco-Dutch agency, the boss of the British company which lost the contract mentioned on Thursday.
May introduced in December that Britain, which adopted burgundy passports in 1988, would swap again to the “iconic” blue ones that it had earlier than becoming a member of the bloc.
British passports are actually made by De La Rue (DLAR.L), which regardless of its French identify is a British company that prints them in northern England. The company’s CEO mentioned it lost the tender for the brand new model after being undercut on worth.
Franco-Dutch company Gemalto (GTO.AS) gained the contract, the Sun newspaper mentioned.
“I’m going to have to go and face those workers, look them in the whites of the eyes and try and explain to them why the British government thinks it’s a sensible decision to buy French passports not British passports,” De La Rue CEO Martin Sutherland informed BBC radio.
“I’d like to invite Theresa May or (interior minister) Amber Rudd to come to my factory and explain to my dedicated workforce why they think this is a sensible decision to offshore the manufacture of a British icon.”
“Sacre Bleu!” headlined the pro-Brexit Daily Mail tabloid.
When May introduced the swap again to blue passports in December, she mentioned on Twitter: “The UK passport is an expression of our independence and sovereignty – symbolising our citizenship of a proud, great nation. That’s why we have announced that the iconic #bluepassport will return after we leave the European Union in 2019.”
The European Union doesn’t require any explicit color of passport however recommends member states undertake burgundy. Croatia, which joined the European Union in 2013, retained its blue passport with no plans to alter its color scheme.
De La Rue’s contract, which ends in July 2019, is value 400 million kilos ($566 million). Its shares fell 5 % in early buying and selling.
Britain’s inside ministry defended the choice.
“The preferred bidder has been selected following a rigorous, fair and open competition,” it mentioned in an announcement.
“The chosen company demonstrated that they will be best able to meet the needs of our passport service with a high quality and secure product at the best value for money for our customers and the taxpayer.”
Gemalto (GTO.AS) has been awarded the passport deal value 490 million kilos, The Sun reported. The company didn’t return requests for remark from Reuters.
Britain’s greatest commerce union Unite hit out on the government’s alternative and mentioned the French government would by no means have made such a transfer.
“It wouldn’t happen in France because of national security and it shouldn’t happen in the UK,” mentioned nationwide officer Louisa Bull.
“Ministers need to reverse this decision and start supporting British business and UK workers through public procurement and an industrial strategy which is more than just soundbites.”
Additional repoting by Estelle Shirbon in London, Igor Ilic in Zagreb and Michel Rose in Paris; Editing by Guy Faulconbridge and Peter Graff