ASA won't investigate 'Get ready for Brexit' campaign after complaints

The ASA decides to not take further action after 'Get ready for Brexit' campaign receives 94 complaints

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) will not to launch a formal investigation into the government’s ‘Get Ready for Brexit’ campaign, despite 94 complaints and one incoming from The Independent Group for Change MP Chris Leslie.

When the government launched its £140m ‘Get Ready for Brexit’ campaign earlier this month, a number of people accused Boris Johnson of misleading the public.

While the campaign sets out what the nation needs to do ahead of Brexit, when the UK will leave the European Union (EU) with or without a deal, it has been accused of overestimating the chances of the UK leaving without a deal on the 31October. It was created by the ad agency Engine.

Earlier this month, a cross-party group of MPs, led by Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson, wrote to the head of civil service to demand he take action to stop the campaign wasting money and giving inaccurate information to the public and businesses.

The ASA has now received 94 complaints from members of the public.

According to The New European, The Independent Group for Change MP Chris Leslie branded the campaign “inaccurate” and “misleading,” telling the House of Commons “nowhere, not even in the small print, does it mention that’s the law of the land may prevent a no-deal Brexit. Shouldn’t the government be honest with businesses and consumers.”

Although Leslie said he would be writing to the ASA, the ad watchdog has confirmed that it is yet to receive his letter of complaint.

Howeve the ad watchdog has decided that it does not consider there to be grounds to take further action.

A spokesperson for the ASA said that the 31October has been declared by the Government as the date by which it is targeting for the UK to leave the EU with or without a withdrawal agreement.

The ASA said that this therefore currently remains the default date that the public will consider as the official ‘leave’ date for the UK, as agreed by the EU last autumn.

Further, the ad watchdog said it appreciates that due to recent events this date might be subject to change if the UK Government cannot secure a withdrawal agreement by mid-October. Despite this, it remains the default position of both the UK Government and EU that the UK will leave.

It argues that because the campaign intends to encourage people to be prepared for Brexit, in terms of travel and business, and the actual date is not, at this time, likely to mislead the general public about the plans the ads encourage them to make in order to prepare for Brexit.

If Leslie does issue a complaint on the same grounds as previous complainants, the same reasoning would apply and the ASA would not investigate, it said.

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