Shares in passport-maker De La Rue dropped almost 6 per cent in morning trading after reports emerged the contract to produce the new, blue British passports will be awarded to an overseas firm.
The post-Brexit passport is likely to be made by Franco-Dutch group Gemalto, after the UK company’s existing 10-year contract, worth around £400m, expires in July 2019.
London-listed De La Rue said it was “disappointed” at the news and is considering appealing the decision, but added that losing the contract would not affect its financial results over the next two years.
“De La Rue has worked closely with Her Majesty’s Passport Office over the last nine years, designing and producing the UK passport and establishing it as one of the most secure passports in the world,” the Hampshire-based company said.
“Today’s decision is expected to have no impact on the performance of current and next financial year. The company is disappointed with the outcome of the tender process and will now consider its options including an appeal.”
Moving production of the passport away from a UK company provoked angry reactions from pro-Brexit politicians. Former Cabinet minister Priti Patel said: “This should be a moment that we should be celebrating. The return of our iconic blue passport will re-establish the British identity.
“But to be putting the job in the hands of the French is simply astonishing. It is a national humiliation. I would urge Amber Rudd and the Government to look again at the powers they have to see what they can do.”
A Home Office 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.
“All passports will continue to be personalised with the holder’s details in the United Kingdom, meaning that no personal data will leave the UK.
“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.”