Two EU-based companies are also bidding for the tender to print British passports after Brexit, according to reports from the Sunday Times which have left pro-leave MPs “seeing red”.
The current tender for the design and production of new British passports is set to expire in 2019, the year the UK leaves the European Union. PrintWeek previously reported that the current holders, De La Rue, was in the running to pick up the new contract, now worth £490m.
According to “insiders” speaking to the Sunday Times, the two other shortlisted companies competing for the contract are French and German. Eurosceptics have previously called for a return to the older style of British passport – navy blue with an embossed royal arms on the cover.
Pro-Brexit Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen was unhappy with the idea of European firms appearing on the tender shortlist.
He told the Sunday Times: “While I want to see the government achieving the best value for money, it would be ludicrous if our passports were made in Europe.
“I want to see the new British passport manufactured in Britain in a British factory employing British people because if it is not it rather defeats the objective of upholding British identity.”
Speaking to Dezeen magazine in February, De La Rue creative director Julian Payne said the new passport is “likely to become a defining symbol of Britain’s new identity and relationship with the world”. He said the fact that the current contract was set to expire in the same year as Brexit was “quite coincidental”.
The new contract is set to last for 10 years with potential for an 18-month extension. The estimated value is based on current unit prices and excludes VAT.
De La Rue was not available to offer comment at the time of writing.
The Home Office issues over 6 million passports annually and is the only provider of passports to British expatriate citizens.
It is expected that the successful company will be announced by Christmas.