The French will “rise up” and want to leave the EU once they see the new post-Brexit British passport, a Tory MP has claimed.
Ministers are under pressure to prevent the contract to make the new blue passport being handed to a Franco-Dutch company.
Speaking in the Commons on Monday, Peter Bone, a leading Brexiteer, defended the move.
“The EU leadership group are in turmoil. They are worried about the British passport being made in France,” he said.
“Because when the French people see this symbol of freedom and independence and realise the British people are gaining control of their borders, money and laws, they will rise up and want to leave the EU.”
The post-Brexit UK passports are to be dark blue, as they were before Britain joined the EU.
Labour MPs have raised concerns that the decision could lead to job losses at De La Rue, the current British passport manufacture.
Daine Abbott, the shadow home secretary, said the government should “reexamine the decision”.
“Is this what senior ministers in the ‘Leave’ campaign meant by taking back control?” she asked.
“Far form taking back control, it seems we cannot control where our passports are printed.”
Abbott said the government could not be “allowed to hide behind EU procurement rules” and said they must “take responsibility for the potential fallout this may have on workers, their families, the community and their wider industrial strategy”.
But veteran Tory MP Ken Clarke ridiculed the “jingoistic” debate around passports and the “nationalist nonsense” of demanding they be made in the UK even if it cost more.
“De La Rue is a very successful British company which wins fair, international, tendered contracts and earns a great deal of money for this country printing other people’s currencies and official documents,” he said.
Immigration minister Caroline Nokes said the government would not resort to “protectionist” policies and that there was “no place for sentimentalism”.
“The reality is in a fair procurement process we had to look at quality, security and indeed price – and this was the contract that provided the best value on all counts,” she said.