Brexit: Government pauses £100m 31 October ad campaign

By Brian Wheeler
BBC News

  • Published
Get Ready for Brexit campaignImage source, Getty Images

The government says it has paused its campaign urging the public and businesses to Get Ready for Brexit on 31 October.

It comes after Prime Minister Boris Johnson accepted the EU's offer to extend the Brexit deadline to 31 January.

The Brexit advertising blitz across social media, billboards and TV is reported to have cost £100m.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn called it "£100m of misspent public money".

"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?," Mr Corbyn asked MPs.

"[Boris Johnson] has failed because he has chosen to fail and he now seeks to blame Parliament."

Meanwhile, the BBC understands that Operation Yellowhammer, the government's contingency plan for a no-deal Brexit, has been stood down.

Last week, the National Audit Office said in a report that the government's advertising campaign had had "limited impact" because it was launched in early September, which was too close to 31 October.

The wording on the home page of the Get Ready for Brexit website was changed on 18 October - the day Mr Johnson agreed his deal with the EU - to suggest a no-deal exit on the 31 October was less likely.

Before 18 October, it said: "The UK is due to leave on 31 October."

Image source, UK government
Image caption,
How the website looked before the EU agreed a deal with Boris Johnson

The website then said: "We could still leave with no deal on 31 October."

Image source, UK government
Image caption,
How the website looked after the Brexit deal was agreed

Shortly after Boris Johnson announced that he had accepted the EU's extension, it was changed to remove any reference to 31 October.

Image source, UK government

The BBC's digital reporter Joey D'Urso said there were still a lot of active ads on Facebook on Monday afternoon containing the 31 October date, according to the social media giant's ad library.