Government to throw taxpayer cash at no-deal Brexit publicity blitz

Brexit secretary Steve Barclay, apparently

The government has been accused of "distracting from the gaping flaws in its own deal" after launching a massive publicity drive to prepare the public for a no-deal Brexit.

Whitehall departments and the health regulator are to begin publishing guidance on how the public can get ready for issues that would arise from a disorderly break from Europe, the Brexit secretary has said.

The public information campaign, which will also see broadcasts on radio and social media, comes after the government sought to advise businesses on how they might best prepare for no deal.

Steve Barclay said that no deal would be "far more likely" if MPs rejected the prime minister's agreement when a vote is held in the week beginning January 14.

But opponents said the government was spending more taxpayer's money distracting from the "gaping flaws" in its own deal by warning of a no-deal catastrophe.

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"The pace and intensity of the work we are doing reflects the potential scale of this disruption to people and businesses across the UK that a no-deal scenario could bring," Barclay wrote in the Daily Express.

"The Home Office will next week be publicising guidance on new passport rules for people travelling to many European countries.

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"These rules would mean some people have to renew their passport earlier than planned. Advice is already available online and next week the Home Office will further publicise how to renew a passport as easily as possible.

"The Department for Transport is sharing guidance on how we will ensure people can continue to travel to the EU in the event of no deal, and today the medicines regulator has updated guidance to ensure regulatory processes for medicines, medical devices and clinical trials are fit for purpose.

"And, on Tuesday, we will start a new phase in our public information campaign, using radio and social media to further raise awareness."

Labour MP Virendra Sharma, a champion of the anti-Brexit campaign group Best for Britain, said: "The government has already spent hundreds of thousands pushing its Brexit agenda on social media.

"Now it wants to spend more taxpayer's money distracting from the gaping flaws in its own deal by warning of a no-deal catastrophe. "It's a bleak start to 2019, but there's still time to brighten up the new year by giving the public the final say over Brexit, with the option to stay and strengthen ourselves within Europe."

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