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EXCLUSIVE: Arch Remainer Lord Adonis says he will renew his passport before they turn Brexit blue to keep an EU burgundy travel document for a decade

Lord Adonis has said he will renew his burgundy passport before the documents turn Brexit blue as "a symbol of European civilisation".
Lord Adonis has said he will renew his burgundy passport before the documents turn Brexit blue as "a symbol of European civilisation".
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A former Cabinet Minister has said he will renew his passport before they turn Brexit blue to keep his EU burgundy travel document as long as possible as "a symbol of European civilisation".

Amid a row over the new post-Brexit blue passports being made in France, arch-Remainer Lord Adonis described the colour switch as emblematic of a "retreat back to little England" as Britain leaves the European Union.

He told The Yorkshire Post: "The blue passports are being made in France which sums up the whole Brexit project doesn't it?

"That in order to take control we have to give huge contracts, huge Brexit contracts to France - what a nonsense."

The peer, who quit as chair of Theresa May's National Infrastructure Commission over Brexit in December, said he would take the opportunity to renew his burgundy passport for a decade before blue documents are issued in October 2019.

"I'm certainly doing that yeah, I want my burgundy passport - a symbol of European civilisation, not retreating back to little England and the Wars of the Roses."

His comments came as the Prime Minister was urged to explain to British workers why the new blue passport will be made in France rather than in the North of England.

The move has angered Brexiteers who have described it as a "national humiliation".

The contract to manufacture the document, which Brexiteers see as a symbol of the UK's regained independence, is set to be awarded to Franco-Dutch firm Gemalto rather than De La Rue's Gateshead plant.

De La Rue boss Martin Sutherland said it was "disappointing and surprising" that "this icon of British identity is going to be manufactured in France" and called on Mrs May or Home Secretary Amber Rudd to explain their decision to his workers.

Mr Sutherland said the Home Office had confirmed the move to him, although ministers denied the process was complete.

He said his firm had been producing passports for the UK for the last 10 years "without a single hiccup" but had been "undercut on price" and would appeal against the decision.

The Daily Telegraph reported that Gemalto undercut other bids by around £50 million.

Referring to the Gateshead staff, Mr Sutherland said: "I'm going to have to go and face those workers, look at them in the whites of the eyes and try and explain to them why the British Government thinks it's a sensible decision to buy French passports not British passports."

He added: "I would actually like to invite Theresa May or Amber Rudd to come to my factory and explain to my dedicated workforce why they think this is a sensible decision to offshore the manufacture of a British icon."

Former cabinet minister Priti Patel told The Sun: "This should be a moment that we should be celebrating. The return of our iconic blue passport will re-establish the British identity.

"But to be putting the job in the hands of the French is simply astonishing. It is a national humiliation."

Arch Brexiteer Sir Bill Cash said: "I think it is incongruous to say the least. It is completely unnecessary and it is symbolically completely wrong."

Downing Street said the "fair and open" passport procurement process would be allowed to run its course.