LONDON, March 22 (Reuters) - Britain is set to make its first post-Brexit blue passport, a cherished symbol of independence for many who backed leaving the bloc, in EU member France, the chief executive of passport-making company De La Rue said on Thursday.
During often bitter campaigning during the June 2016 referendum on whether to leave the EU, which Britain joined in 1973, some Brexit supporters called for a return of the blue passports, issued from 1920 to 1988.
The current burgundy document is made by British firm De La Rue in northern England.
"I'm going to have to go and face those 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," Martin Sutherland told BBC radio.
Britain's interior ministry said it was running a fair and open competition to make sure the end result is a high quality and secure product offering best value for money to customers.
"We do not require passports to be manufactured in the UK," said a spokeswoman. "A proportion of blank passport books are currently manufactured overseas, and there are no security or operational reasons why this would not continue." (Reporting by Costas Pitas and Estelle Shirbon; editing by Guy Faulconbridge)