Government launches new 'spin' unit to try to quash stories about risks of no-deal Brexit

PUBLISHED: 14:47 12 August 2019 | UPDATED: 14:55 12 August 2019

Prime minister Boris Johnson. Photograph: John Stillwell/PA.

Prime minister Boris Johnson. Photograph: John Stillwell/PA.

PA Wire/Press Association Images

Brexiteer Michael Gove has helped to launch a new 'rapid rebuttal unit' from the government to try to kill stories about the risks of a no-deal Brexit.

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The new unit will be run by civil servants from the cabinet office, the Telegraph reports, with the aim to ensure that "the public and businesses are not being alarmed by scare stories or falsehoods".

The newspaper quoted an insider who said it could "take a variety of forms from correcting inaccuracies at source to issuing tweets or directly reassuring stakeholders like businesses to publishing factual blogs".

They added: While no deal may present some challenges, scare stories and misinformation are designed to obstruct democracy and prevent us leaving."

The government was said to be alarmed the BBC was leading with a number of stories about a no-deal Brexit in recent days, and comes as Dominic Cummings has re-organised the government's special advisers.

"All government departments are responsible for responding to inaccurate media reporting in their areas," a spokesperson for the government said, confirming the reports.

"A team focusing on reacting quickly to Brexit-related stories is being established as part of preparations to leave the EU on 31 October, so as to reassure the public that the government will be full prepared for the UK to leave then, whatever the circumstances."

Liberal Democrat Brexit spokesperson Tom Brake said that the British public "deserve the truth".

He said: "The British public deserve the truth about the realities of what a no-deal Brexit will entail, but this is not what Gove's rebuttal unit will provide.

"It will be nothing more than a spin machine trying to mask the danger and chaos a no-deal Brexit will cause, with the cost coming out of the public purse.

"Rebuttal units in the past have been nothing more than a colossal waste of time and money. It is another shameful amount of money the Conservatives can add to their Brexit tab.

"Boris Johnson's government are determined to drag us off the cliff edge in October and now are actively attempting to hide how this will affect our jobs, our businesses and our economy. It is time the British people were given the truth and a way out of this mess with a people's vote, with the option to stay in the EU."

Labour's Jon Trickett said it was a waste of money.

The shadow cabinet office minister said: "Setting up a no-deal spin unit is a pointless waste of taxpayers' money, and will do nothing to help avoid the years of chaos and uncertainty that will follow."

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