UK passports Brexit

Is the blue passports debacle finally over?

A disgruntled UK manufacturer has dropped an appeal to make sure they're made in the UK

A couple weeks ago there was a story about a very angry British company which had lost out on a contract to make new British passports to a Franco-Dutch company. Initially, the British company had said it was going to appeal, but it's now said it won't bother.

What it means: Recap. The blue passports have become a symbol of Britain 'taking back control' after Brexit. Passports in the UK were navy blue until 1988 when they changed to burgundy to match others in the EU – incidentally, the burgundy passports aren't obligatory for EU members, but after the Brexit vote it was announced the UK would return to the original colours, you know, to make a point about British independence from the EU.

Which is why some people thought it was outrageous that these new Very British Passports wouldn't be made by a British firm.

The Home Office (which is responsible for issuing passports) said there is nothing that says the passports have to be made by a British company, and the French company has said they'll make them for £50m less than the existing manufacturers (which saves government money).

This is about competition – being in an 'open market' means people who can make things at the highest quality, with the best value-for-money, are likely to win wherever they are based, and whatever the politics.

It's also about attitudes to international trade, and whether or not domestic companies should be given an advantage over international ones. The attitude the British company is displaying is called a 'protectionist' attitude, and it's in the news a lot at the moment because it's the one favoured by Donald Trump – choosing American businesses before foreign ones, and charging 'tariffs' on things imported from abroad.

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