Blue passport plan sparks 'fake news' row over claims it will cost £500m to change colour
A Tory minister has accused Labour frontbencher Angela Rayner of tweeting "made up numbers" in a row over the cost of new blue passports.
The Government announced today that after Brexit new passports will no longer be burgundy but blue, with Theresa May claiming the colour change is "an expression of our independence and sovereignty".
The Shadow Education Secretary took to Twitter to denounce the cost of the redesign, claiming the Government had found "half a billion" pounds at a time when public services are struggling.
However, the £490m outlay on the new design is part of a contract that was up for renewal in 2019 regardless of the outcome of the referendum vote.
Immigration Minister Brandon Lewis took Ms Rayner to task, saying she was using "factually wrong" arguments and that the colour change "will not cost the taxpayer anything extra".
Mr Lewis also called on entrepreneur and Dragon's Den star James Caan to retract a tweet on the same issue which had been retweeted thousands of times in the space of a few hours today.
It is the latest attempt from the Tories to fight back over social media, with Work and Pensions Secretary David Gauke leading the charge against what he says are false claims about the Government's Universal Credit programme.
He published a letter on his Twitter account this week attacking Labour MP Frank Field over a case involving one of his constituents.
“I think it is important that we do not desert the battlefield," Mr Gauke said on Wednesday.
"Social media can at the moment feel dominated by the hard left. I think it is important we engage and make the points,”