British passports issued in traditional blue covers after Brexit will be manufactured in France, according to the current UK-based manufacturer.
The head of De La Rue, which makes the Burgundy documents used by the UK since the late 1980s, said his firm had been undercut by another bidder.
“I’m going to have to go and face [the print] workers, look 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,” De La Rue CEO Martin Sutherland told BBC radio.
The Telegraph, The Financial Times, The Sun and The Times all reported that Gemalto, based in France and the Netherlands had won the deal. Public procurement rules do not allow the government to discriminate against companies from other EU countries.
Theresa May announced in December the UK would revert the colour of its passports to dark blue, describing the move as an "expression of our independence and sovereignty".
Former cabinet minister Priti Patel told the Sun she wanted the government to review the decision to allow passports to be made abroad.
"To be putting the job in the hands of the French is simply astonishing. It is a national humiliation," she said.