Keir Starmer says new blue passport should be made by a British firm

Posted On: 
25th March 2018

Keir Starmer has said the UK's new post-Brexit blue passport should be made by a British firm.

The new blue passport will be printed by French firm Gemalto.
PA Images

The Shadow Brexit Secretary said it was wrong that the contract for making the travel document is set to be awarded to French company Gemalto.

They were chosen ahead of Basingstoke-based De La Rue - which has been printing British passports for the last 10 years - for the multi-million pound contract.

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De La Rue boss Martin Sutherland called on Theresa May and Amber Rudd to visit the company's factory in Gateshead to "explain to a dedicated workforce why they think this is a sensible decision, to offshore the manufacture of a British icon".

Union bosses and Brexit-backing Conservative MPs have also condemned the move and have called on the Government to think again.

Mr Starmer threw his weight behind their campaign while appearing on ITV's Peston on Sunday show.

Asked if the passports should be printed by a British company, he said: "Yes they should. The passport is such an important issue of course it should be a British company. The story of the passport sums up the Government's approach really to Brexit.

"It starts by saying it's going to be blue and then it's not going to be blue. It starts saying it's going to be the UK and now it's France. Over-promising and under-delivering, which for me categorises year one of the negotiations."

De La Rue's bid was reportedly £120m higher than Gemalto's, but Mr Starmer said: "No one wants to throw away £120m quid. They should have got the most competitive bid they can, but to put it to a French company is the wrong thing to have done."

Speaking on Friday a spokesman for the Prime Minister insisted the decision to choose the French bid had been taken after a fair process.

He said: "We feel the chosen company demonstrated that they would be best able to meet the needs of our passport service. We needed a high quality and secure product which gets the best value for money for the taxpayer.

"This was a new bidding process, which rightly went out to tender and we feel that the chosen company both demonstrates the best value for money for the taxpayer, and also in these kinds of things, security is paramount and we feel that the chosen bidder meets those needs. But no judgement on De La Rue specifically."