'Get Ready for Brexit' campaign spent £46m of taxpayers' cash without making a difference, watchdog finds

Rob Merrick
Getty

The much-ridiculed ‘Get Ready for Brexit’ campaign last autumn spent £46m of taxpayers’ cash without any evidence that people were better prepared, a watchdog has found.

The publicity splurge – in the run-up to the intended 31 October date for leaving the EU – ran for nearly two months on billboards and in newspapers, after the threat of a no-deal crash-out rose.

It was widely criticised at the time for failing to tell people what exactly they should do to prepare and because MPs had passed a law to make a no-deal Brexit impossible anyway.

Now the National Audit Office has sharply criticised its impact, finding it failed to increase the proportion of the public looking for information – which remained at around one third.

Gareth Davies, the head of the NAO, said the Cabinet Office had “successfully corralled multiple government departments to work together effectively and launched this complex campaign at great speed”.

But he added: “However, it is not clear that the campaign resulted in the public being significantly better prepared.”

The publicity drive was ordered by Boris Johnson after he became prime minister last July with hardline vow to leave by the end of October “do or die”.

It was not halted October 28, three days before the UK was supposed to leave, after the EU granted another extension to the end of January.


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