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The government denies scrapping £100m ‘Get Ready For Brexit’ campaign

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By Imogen Watson, Senior reporter

October 25, 2019 | 4 min read

The Government has denied that it has pulled its controversial £100m ‘Get Ready for Brexit’ campaign after reports in the national press claimed otherwise.

The Government scraps £100m 'Get Ready For Brexit' campaign

The Government scraps £100m 'Get Ready For Brexit' campaign

The i newspaper reported yesterday (24 October) that print advertising space allocated for the ‘Get Ready for Brexit’ would no longer feature the Cabinet Office’s planned briefings, hinting that the UK’s departure from the EU would, therefore, be delayed beyond the 31 October.

Despite this, a Government spokesperson has told The Drum that this isn't the case, saying: "The campaign is still live."

Doubts over the effectiveness of the campaign were highlighted last week, when the National Audit Office (NAO) published a report determined that the campaign could ultimately fall flat with audiences amid growing uncertainty of a political timeline for Brexit.

"On 1 September 2019, the government launched a major communications campaign to help individuals and businesses prepare for EU exit, including newspaper and television adverts, improved guidance, and direct engagement with industry,” said the assessment.

"However, at this late stage and with ongoing uncertainty about the prospect of no deal on 31 October, this may have limited impact.

The campaign was revealed at the beginning of September, in the run-up to the October 31st deadline. Created by Engine Group, it seeks to prepare the public and business owners for whatever agreement is, or isn’t, made between the British Government and European leaders.

With activity running across outdoor, television and social media, the ‘Get Ready for Brexit’ campaign is directing people towards a Government website, which hosts a 'checker tool' designed to let users identify what they must do to prepare for Brexit. How-to videos and step-by-step guides are featured on the website.

However, the campaign hasn’t been positively received, with some criticising it for "misleading the general public".

Discontent for the campaign message resulted in 94 complaints to the Advertising Standard’s Authority (ASA).

The complainants, including Independent Group for Change MP Chris Leslie, branded the campaign “inaccurate” and “misleading" for citing the official Brexit deadline as 31 October.

Leslie told the House of Commons two weeks ago: “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?"

Despite this, the ASA chose not the launch a formal investigation into the campaign, as it did not consider there to be grounds to take further action.

A spokesperson for the ASA told The Drum this was because 31 October had 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 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.

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