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Date TimeMarch 21, 2018
VoiceEU company Gemalto is understood to have outbid UK rival for £490m printing contract
Post-Brexit passports set to be made by Franco-Dutch firm
Britain’s post-Brexit blue passport is set to be made by a Franco-Dutch firm, according to reports.
Changing the colour from the burgundy favoured across the EU is regarded by some Brexiters as a powerful symbol of Britain’s restored sovereignty.
But it was reported that British firm De La Rue had lost out to Gemalto, which is listed on the French and Dutch stock exchanges, in the race to win the £490m printing job.
The Home Office last night insisted no final decision has 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 colours of choice for our passports. It is absolutely right that after we leave the European Union, we return to deciding the colour of passports that we want, not that the EU wants.”
At the time she said she couldn’t comment on individual bids; but Whitehall sources have suggested Gemalto has beaten British firm De La Rue to the job, expected to be worth almost £500m.
De La Rue issued a profit warning on Tuesday, telling investors its profits for the coming year are likely to be “at the lower end of the current consensus range” – but without giving further details.
Pro-Brexit former cabinet minister Priti Patel described the decision as perverse.
The Liberal Democrat’s 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.”
Eloise Todd, of pro-remain pressure group Best for Britain, said: “the new 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 irony is unreal.”
Gemalto offers what its website calls an “end to end ePassport solution”, and is already involved in the production of 30 countries’ passports.
Under EU competition rules, large public procurement contracts must be offered to companies across the the bloc.
It is unclear how the government’s approach may change after Brexit, but countries seeking to strike new trade deals with the UK are likely to seek enhanced access to public contracts.

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