LONDON (Reuters) – The company that makes British passports will problem the choice to make use of a overseas agency in future, a government determination that some eurosceptics within the tabloid press have referred to as unpatriotic.
Prime Minister Theresa May introduced post-Brexit Britain would change its passports from burgundy to blue – nearer to how they regarded earlier than the color of EU passports was harmonised in 1988 – in “an expression of our independence and sovereignty”.
But stories that Franco-Dutch agency Gemalto (GTO.AS), slightly than Britain’s De La Rue Plc (DLAR.L), had gained the tender to supply them angered some Britons and the Daily Mail mentioned greater than 270,000 individuals had signed its petition demanding the contract go to a British company.
Gemalto, which already produces British driving licenses, has not confirmed or denied it gained the contract, however De La Rue has publically criticised the choice to make use of a overseas agency.
It mentioned it might search a judicial assessment of the tender determination because it believes it made “the highest quality and technically most secure bid.”
The Daily Mail applauded De La Rue for “coming out fighting” and urged the government to “put security and patriotism first” by reversing its determination.
A spokesman for May mentioned the standstill interval – between a contract being awarded and its last conclusion – had been prolonged resulting from De La Rue’s request, however the government had not modified its stance.
“This has been a rigorous, fair and open competition. The preferred bidder demonstrated they are best able to meet the needs of the passport service,” he mentioned.
The passport subject has proved uncomfortable for May as she fends off accusation from hardliners in her personal get together that she is going to accept a “soft” Brexit deal that would go away Britain nonetheless confined by many EU guidelines, which embody open competitors for public contracts.
Anti-Brexit figures have identified that Britain had by no means been obliged to make its passports burgundy and that one EU member, Croatia, already has blue passports. And, in an April Fools joke, the European Parliament tweeted on Sunday that the EU had determined to make all EU passports blue.
De La Rue’s contract, which ends in July 2019, is price 400 million kilos. The new contract will begin in October 2019, after Britain leaves the EU in March.
Shares in De La Rue had been little modified on Tuesday, having fallen 6 % when it mentioned it had lost the contract in March.
Britain’s largest commerce union Unite mentioned it supported De La Rue’s authorized problem because it was involved about manufacturing jobs.
Reporting by Alistair Smout; Editing by Guy Faulconbridge and Robin Pomeroy