British passport row rumbles on

The debate over Brexit continues to rage in the UK in spite of the previous prime minister having suggested a referendum would settle the issue for a generation (it took minutes for the issue to intensify rather than cool off, we seem to recall). The problem, as we wrote last week, was that the passports after the UK leaves the EU look likely to be made in France.

The company that appears to have lost the contract, which by the way was up for renewal regardless of Brexit, was De La Rue in the UK. Commentators from some of the press have suggested it is ludicrous to allow the French to make something so iconic to the UK. (The Sun newspaper, to its credit, has suggested that if Britain believes free trade is a benefit of Brexit then it has to accept it will lose the odd contract when there is fair competition).

Except that if there were a preferential deal offered to the company, we reckon they’d lose quite a bit. This article in the Guardian clarifies the position nicely: De La Rue makes our banknotes but it also prints notes for “Qatar, Kuwait, the Bahamas and the Seychelles, among others,” the piece says. It also makes passports for Rwanda, Kenya, Afghanistan and many other countries – the company’s own website understandably boasts of its international appeal.

So logically, if the UK were to introduce some sort of rule that said only a British company could make British passports, the other territories would be free to do the same. There are a lot of British passports, we accept that; we just wonder how long the company would last if literally everyone else were to ditch its business because of jingoism.

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