Government pauses ‘£100m’ ad campaign for October 31 Brexit preparations

The Government has “paused” its advertising campaign in 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 Brexit not set to 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.

No-deal planning under Operation Yellowhammer was also understood to have been stood down.

Jeremy Corbyn told MPs the advertising campaign was “£100 million of misspent public money”.

The PM’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.

“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 PM) 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.”

Brexit
The letter written by Boris Johnson to Donald Tusk following the Brexit extension (Downing Street/PA)

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” and messaging on bus stops.

The Cabinet Office did not provide a figure for the cost of the advertising campaign when asked.

The PM was compelled to ask Brussels to an extension to Article 50 by the Benn Act 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.

While the Yellowhammer planning was understood to have been ceased operationally, other no-deal planning was said to be continuing.

But civil servants who had been working on the operation are now expected to return to their previous roles.

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