- British passport maker De La Rue has announced it will challenge the government’s decision to manufacture new blue British passports in France.
- Blue passports were touted by the Home Office as a symbol of Britain’s post-Brexit independence, and the decision to manufacture them abroad was met with outrage by pro-Brexit MPs and Labour.
- De La Rue said its passports would be better quality and more secure than their cheaper French counterparts.
LONDON – British passport maker De La Rue has announced it will challenge the UK government’s decision to manufacture new blue British passports in France.
The company said it will launch a legal appeal against the recent decision to award a £490 million contract to French security giant Gemalto. De La Rue is to challenge the decision on the grounds that its bid was the “highest quality and technically most secure,” although it conceded Gemalto had offered a lower price.
Passports issued after the United Kingdom leaves the European Union will be blue and gold rather than the current burgundy colour. British passports are currently manufactured by native firm, De La Rue.
Touted by the Home Office as a symbol of Britain’s post-Brexit independence, the decision to manufacture passports abroad was met with outrage by pro-Brexit MPs, the Labour party, and trade unions.
Eloise Todd, from the pro-remain campaign group Best for Britain, previously 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.”
The Home Office stated that changing contractors would save the taxpayer £120 million.
In an emailed statement, a De La Rue spokesperson said:
“We confirm that we are taking the first steps towards initiating appeal proceedings against the provisional decision to award the British passport contract to a part state-owned Franco-Dutch company.”
“Based on our knowledge of the market, it’s our view that ours was the highest quality and technically most secure bid.
“We can accept that we weren’t the cheapest, even if our tender represented a significant discount on the current price.
“It has also been suggested that the winning bid was well below our cost price, which causes us to question how sustainable it is.
“In the light of this, we are confident that we remain the best and securest option in the national interest.”
The decision to award the contract to a French firm was the result of a “blind tender” process under which ministers were not allowed to see which company had submitted each bid. Strict EU rules on procurement meant the government had to open the process to all European firms.
Gemalto has not formally been announced as the winning bidder, but the decision is expected to be announced today.
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