Warsaw, Poland – The next British passports, arguably the most tangible symbol of the U.K.’s self-declared strive to regain its independence through the Brexit vote, could be made in… Poland.
French-Dutch firm wins contract for U.K. passports
The news took everyone by surprise and caused public outcry (or outright mockery, depending on your stance) in Britain: last year, Gemalto, a French-Dutch company owned by Thales, won the public tender of the Home Office to create and print the new blue passports to be issued after (if) the U.K. effectively leaves the European Union.
Brexiters cried foul, especially when news arose that the loss of the contract by British firm De La Rue might accelerate the company’s restructuring and result in nearly 200 lay-offs.
According to reports, Gemalto’s £260 million contract will last for 11.5 years. The company boasts that the new British passport will be one of the most advanced biometric documents in the world, introducing for the first time new security features developed in-house and a polycarbonate data page. But apparently, that wasn’t enough to alleviate public anger.
Britain’s blue passports could be printed in Poland
According to Louisa Bull, from UNITE, one of the largest trade unions in Britain and Ireland, “the final distasteful irony is that Gemalto has now outsourced the printing of U.K. passports to a Polish firm”, hinting at rumors that the new blue passports could be printed by Gemalto’s Polish Tczew factory, in operation since 2010.
Hailed as a symbol of the U.K.’s regained independence over the EU, post-Brexit British passports could effectively be printed, as of this autumn, in Poland – the country, in another ironical twist, that arguably has the most to lose from a U.K. exit – and where Gemalto employs over 1,000 people in offices and factories in Warsaw, Krakow, Poznan, Gdynia and Tczew.
British authorities tried to minimize the loss, saying that some components of the passports, including the personal data, will be handled exclusively and create jobs in the U.K.