Strong support for the passport maker De La Rue in its legal challenge over the decision to award the contract to produce the new blue passport in France came today (Tuesday 3 April) from Unite, the country’s largest union.

Unite, which has thousands of members in the printing and paper industries, reiterated the case that the contract is not about whether the passports are red or blue, or Brexit. It is about defending decent jobs in the UK’s manufacturing industry and in local communities.

De La Rue is formally appealing to the High Court against the decision to award the £490 million contract to produce the UK’s blue passports to a French-Dutch rival Gemalto on the grounds of quality and national security.

Unite national officer Louisa Bull said: “Unite strongly supports De La Rue’s legal challenge on the grounds of jobs and protecting communities.

“There is also the issue of national security. Our current passports are technically secure to a high standard and need to remain so, when concerns about national security continue to be a priority.

“De La Rue makes a quality product and has held the contract for producing UK passports since 2009 without a hitch.

“We are also concerned about media reports that Gemalto won the contract by simply undercutting its rivals, which, if true, smacks of unfair competition – the government should investigate these claims urgently.”

About 200 jobs are at risk, but Unite fears others will follow unless work is found for the plants which have produced the UK passport for the past decade. The union also does not believe Gemalto will create a significant number of UK jobs.

The sites the company has in the UK are not expected to take on passport work, with the printing of the new blue document being done in France.