Government pauses ‘£100m’ ad campaign for October 31 Brexit preparations
The Government has “paused” its advertising campaign preparing the public for Brexit on October 31 after Boris Johnson accepted a delay from the EU.
The Prime Minister formally shelved his “do-or-die” commitment to leave by Thursday’s deadline when he accepted an extension on Monday.
With the UK's exit from the EU not set to now happen until the end of January unless MPs approve a deal, the “Get ready for Brexit” campaign – reported to have cost £100 million – was put on hold.
Meanwhile, limited edition Brexit 50p coins, dated October 31 2019, were set to be shredded and melted down.
No-deal planning under Operation Yellowhammer is also understood to have been stood down, although no-deal planning is reportedly still continuing.
Jeremy Corbyn told MPs the advertising campaign was “£100 million of misspent public money”.
The prime minister’s official spokesman said the campaign was being “paused” after the latest Brexit extension was granted by Brussels.
The Labour leader accused Mr Johnson of wasting the sum trying to deliver his hard-line pledge.
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“How many nurses could have been hired, how many parcels could have been funded at food banks, how many social care packages could have been funded for our elderly?” he asked the Commons.
“He (the prime minister) has failed because he has chosen to fail and he now seeks to blame Parliament. £100 million of misspent public money.”
Liberal Democrat shadow Brexit secretary Tom Brake was also highly critical.
“These adverts were the latest example of the Conservative government pouring money down the drain in reckless pursuit of Boris Johnson’s do-or-die October 31 Brexit deadline,” the MP said.
“The money spent on these adverts could have, and should have, gone into our NHS, our schools, and tackling the climate emergency. Instead, it was wasted.”
More than a quarter of a million pounds was spent on Facebook adverts between September 8 and September 14, according to figures from the social network last month.
The campaign also included billboards telling people “get ready, October 31, here we come” as well as messaging on bus stops.
The Cabinet Office did not provide a figure for the cost of the advertising campaign when asked.
The Benn Act forced the Prime Minister to ask Brussels for an extension to Article 50 after he failed to get a deal approved by Parliament.
He wrote to European Council president Donald Tusk to formally confirm the acceptance of the delay while urging EU member states to make clear a further delay is not possible.