Government has already ‘wasted’ £10 million trying to sell Brexit to the public

One of the government's graphics promoting Brexit. Photograph: Government.

One of the government's graphics promoting Brexit. Photograph: Government. - Credit: Archant

Ministers have been criticised for already spending more than £10 million trying to sell Brexit to the public.

Figures released to the PA news agency under Freedom of Information laws showed the government spent £10,842,063 on their Prepare For EU Exit adverts between November 2018 and July this year.

The Cabinet Office spent £2.7 million on print, £2.4 million on radio, £1.2 million on TV and more than £1 million on social media advertising, and a further £3 million on other platforms, according to the data.

The figures also revealed that the page advising people living in the UK on how to prepare received 1.2 million views by the end of May, while the EU citizens preparedness tool had 930,000 views.

Labour's Wes Streeting told PA the money would have been better spent on public services.

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He said: "Every single penny spent on this advertising campaign to prepare for the self-inflicted damage that is Brexit would have been better spent on policing, schools and the NHS.

"Brexit is already costing us dearly and we haven't even left yet."

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Independent MP Heidi Allen also criticised the cost, saying taxpayers' money was being "wasted on desperately attempting to sell a catastrophic no-deal to the public" when it "could have been spent on school books, medicines or stretched local authorities".

"What kind of government prioritises spending on persuading the public that the harm of a no-deal is a price worth paying?

"But it won't work. No matter how much public money Boris Johnson squanders, he will not be able to hide the damage of a no-deal from the businesses, public services and communities that will be hit hardest by it.

"This woeful waste of public money is another reason why it is essential for voters to give their consent in a final say vote."

Labour Party chairman Ian Lavery added: "Nine months on and £10 million later our country is no further forward.

"The Tories have bungled negotiations and they have no plan except to prolong our agony with a costly no-deal Brexit."

A government spokesman said: "We have stepped up preparations to ensure we are ready for Brexit and we have been reviewing the guidance we are issuing across Whitehall to ensure we are fully prepared for leaving on 31 October, whatever the circumstances.

"It is paramount that organisations, communities and citizens have the right information and support for Brexit.

"We will soon launch a large-scale public information campaign setting out what business and the public need to know and do to be fully prepared for Brexit."

The disclosure comes as an estimated £100 million has been devoted to a new information campaign under Boris Johnson's administration, helping people and businesses get ready to leave on October 31.

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