Boris Johnson threatens to 'privatise the a***' out of Passport Office over backlog

The Prime Minister is understood to be 'horrified' at the backlog in processing passport applications and will summon the agency’s leadership for urgent talks. Credit: PA

Boris Johnson has threatened to “privatise the a***” out of the Passport Office if it cannot clear its backlog and deliver better value for money, a senior government source has said.

The prime minister's words come amid the news that people hoping to travel abroad could miss out on their summer holidays due to an "unprecedented surge" in passport applications, with reports of some people waiting as long as five months to receive a new passport - well beyond the 10-week turnaround target.

Mr Johnson is understood to be “horrified” at the backlog in dealing with passport applications and will summon the agency’s leadership for urgent talks at No 10 on Thursday.

He is said to be concerned that families wanting to go on summer holidays are under pressure to pay up to £100 extra per passport for fast-track applications because of delays.

The government has advised people hoping to travel abroad this summer to get their passport applications in as soon as possible. Credit: PA

The source cautioned that privatisation would not be the starting point, but warned that Downing Street could look to businesses to take over if passport bosses could not meet the 10-week target for standard applications costing £75.50.

The prime minister also put the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) and other “arm’s length” bodies on notice in comments to Cabinet ministers, according to the source.

MPs have been raising concerns over significant delays in turning round applications for licences at the DVLA.

Mr Johnson was said to have criticised “post-Covid manana culture” at some of the bodies for not adapting after the easing of coronavirus restrictions.

Downing Street chief of staff Steve Barclay is expected to meet with the Passport Office official later this week.

Those who need to renew their outdated passports have been warned they should apply "as soon as possible" by government minister Kevin Foster, who told MPs the Passport Office had dealt with one million applications last month alone.

He said the department usually only dealt with seven million per year.

And some families are already facing heartbreak as their passport applications are delayed, ruining their travel plans.

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Conservative MP Simon Hoare branded the experience some of his constituents had had with the Passport Office "an absolute shambles".

He claimed constituents contacting the Passport Office are "not getting through (and) are then being lied to by officials when they do get through".It is not the only passport problem facing holiday hopefuls this summer. A rule for visitors to European Union (EU) countries that applies to British passport holders post-Brexit is also seeing holiday hopefuls turned away at boarding gates.

Find out what you need to know to avoid being caught out here.