UK government denies reports it axed 'Get ready for Brexit' ads

An electronic display showing a 'Get ready for Brexit' Government advert, in London. Photo: Yui Mok/PA Wire

The UK government has said it has not dropped its ‘Get ready for Brexit’ campaign, despite reports it has been scaled back after a watchdog questioned its effectiveness.

Media sources reported in the i paper said officials had effectively pulled the campaign, with advertising space earmarked in various newspapers no longer set to be used for reported.

However, a government spokeswoman told Yahoo Finance UK: “The campaign is still live.”

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The government launched the campaign at the end of August, debuting a new website as well as social media, TV, radio and billboard ads in an effort to “prepare” the public for Britain’s departure on 31 October.

However, the Brexit deadline has yet again been thrown into doubt, after prime minister Boris Johnson lost a key vote in the Commons earlier this week.

The uncertainty meant the government was forced to tweak the wording of much of its messaging, saying Britain “could still leave” without a deal at the end of the month.

Last week the National Audit Office (NAO) also criticised the campaign in its ‘The UK border: preparedness for EU exit October 2019’ report, saying it was likely to have “limited impact.”

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In it’s report, the NAO said: “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.

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

In a previous report, the NAO criticised the government for being “heavily dependent” on third parties such as traders, hauliers and passengers being well-informed and making changes to their systems and behaviours.

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But the government has taken “a number of actions” to try to improve the readiness of traders, hauliers and passengers since April 2019, the NAO said.

These include a series of roadshows across the UK and Europe to explain the arrangements that would operate at the UK border in the event of a no-deal exit, and what traders and hauliers need to do to get ready. There are also plans for up to 150 pop-up sites across the UK and EU to provide advice.

"If these groups are not prepared for the controls which EU member states are likely to impose, this may lead to queues at the border,” the report’s authors warned.