Britain’s post-Brexit blue passport, intended as an icon of the UK’s regained independence from Europe, is set to be manufactured by a Franco-Dutch firm, according to reports.
The contract to produce the documents is reportedly close to being awarded to Gemalto after the company undercut rival bids by around £50m.
The development is expected to enrage Leavers already uneasy about the protracted nature of negotiations between London and Brussels over the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union (EU).
Tory MP Sir Bill Cash, chairman of the Commons European Scrutiny Committee, branded such a move “completely wrong and unnecessary”.
The tender to produce the passport was understood to have been put out across the EU under single market rules.
Sir Bill said: “I think it is incongruous to say the least. It is completely unnecessary and it is symbolically completely wrong.
“Whatever the conditions which led to the decision in terms of pricing, the fact is that this is a symbolic event.”
Former cabinet minister Priti Patel told The Sun: “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.”
Liberal Democrat Brexit spokesman Tom Brake told the Press Association: “The blue passport saga is turning into a farce.
“First it was established that we did not have to leave the EU to have blue passports.
“Now we learn that the passports will be printed by a foreign company. And to add insult to injury, we will pay over the odds for them because the value of the pound has fallen since Brexit and they will have to be imported.
“Brexit is far too high a price to pay for a blue passport.”
The head of pro-Europe campaign group Best For Britain, Eloise Todd, said: “The new the 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.
“I guess the Brexit Blue is now classed as French Navy.”
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.”
Additional reporting by PA