The new British passport could be designed by a European company, according to government insiders.
The UK government used an EU tendering portal to find candidates for the design of the first British passport post-Brexit and, according to insiders who spoke to The Sunday Times, two of the shortlisted firms are French and German.
The contract to produce six million passports a year is set to commence in 2019 and is reported to be worth £490 million.
The redesign will see the current burgundy-coloured cover, which was first introduced in 1988 to match the other EU countries, altered to reflect a post-Brexit Britain.
Andrew Bridgen, Conservative MP for North West Leicestershire, told The Times: "While I want to see the government achieving the best value for money, it would be ludicrous if our passports were made in Europe."
The current 10-year contract was awarded to British private security company De La Rue in 2009, which is also in the running for the new contract.
Last month, De La Rue's creative director Julian Payne, who designed the current British passport, took part in a talk with Dezeen Studio director Ben Hobson at the V&A in London to discuss the politics of passport design. Hosted by V&A curator Corinna Gardner, the talk was streamed live via our Facebook page.
"I think the debate will roll on, you'll never please everybody," said Payne during the talk. "You're trying to design a passport on behalf of everybody, whether we can deliver that in a more interesting way, that's the design challenge, that's the fun part of it."
Payne declined to comment further on the status of the tender.
Earlier this year, Dezeen launched an ideas competition to design Britiain's post-Brexit passport, which garnered more than 200 entries.
The winning design, by Scottish graphic designer Ian Macfarlane, features a cover that transitions between the burgundy of the current UK passport and the dark blue of the old, pre-EU British passport.
According to the designer, the UK "needs a visual metaphor to honestly reflect the pre- and post-referendum spirit of the country and all those involved".
Macfarlane's designed and the other shortlisted entries were showcased at the V&A as part of the event last month, and have also been displayed at the Design Museum, elsewhere in London.
The Home Office is expected to announce the winner of the new passport contract before Christmas 2017.
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