Fears new Brexit messaging will be lost amongst coronavirus information from government

A 'Get ready for Brexit' sign, part of a huge government advertising campaign launched ahead of Britain's scheduled October 31 departure from the EU last year. (Photo by David Cliff/NurPhoto via Getty

A 'Get ready for Brexit' sign, part of a huge government advertising campaign launched ahead of Britain's scheduled October 31 departure from the EU last year. (Photo by David Cliff/NurPhoto via Getty

David Cliff/NurPhoto

Messaging about the end of the Brexit transition period may end up ‘crowded out’ by coronavirus information, a committee of MPs are warning.

Become a Supporter

Almost four years after its creation The New European goes from strength to strength across print and online, offering a pro-European perspective on Brexit and reporting on the political response to the coronavirus outbreak, climate change and international politics. But we can only continue to grow with your support.

The Commons Public Accounts Committee has warned the previous ‘get ready for Brexit’ campaign failed to prepare people for a possible no-deal Brexit on October 31st, and warned the government will find the challenge even tougher if the focus remains on coronavirus.

Boris Johnson has insisted he will not apply for an extension beyond the end of the transition period scheduled to finish on December 31, despite warnings the coronavirus outbreak means it will be impossible to conclude a new free trade agreement with the EU by then, and the impact it could have on the economy.

The committee said it was “vital” that citizens and businesses were well prepared for the changes that the end of the transition will entail.

However, it said that despite spending £46 million, there was no evidence that a previous campaign ahead of the UK’s earlier planned withdrawal at the end of last October had resulted in people being better prepared.


Have your say

Send your letters for publication to The New European by emailing letters@theneweuropean.co.uk and pick up an edition each Thursday for more comment and analysis. Find your nearest stockist here or subscribe to a print or digital edition for just £13. You can also join our readers' Facebook group to keep the discussion and debate going with thousands of fellow pro-Europeans.


You may also want to watch:

It said planning had started too late, with too much spent on mass advertising designed to raise general awareness and not enough on targeted activity to get people to take action.

The Cabinet Office said it had learned lessons from previous campaigns, but the committee expressed concern that some of the communications team involved had now been transferred to work on Covid-19.

“We are concerned about whether the Cabinet Office will have sufficient capacity to work effectively on both campaigns simultaneously,” the committee said.

“It is likely that the Covid-19 campaign will crowd out the transition campaign. Businesses and the public may not have the capacity to act on both sets of messages.”

The committee chair Meg Hillier said: “The government is taking the UK through not one but two incredible, unprecedented political and economic upheavals simultaneously, but it is business, the public and the public purse that will suffer if it gets it wrong.

“The government has shown it could not fully successfully deliver one such campaign, before the pandemic disaster hit - in that case with a lot of money spent on the overarching message but less success on the detail which changes behaviour.

“With the nation’s fortunes, livelihoods and even lives at stake, the government must quickly give us confidence that it has learned the lessons and understands the scale of the task of running two campaigns like this, each much more complex and longer term than either the coronavirus ‘Stay at home’ or the original Brexit date messages.”

Become a Supporter

Almost four years after its creation The New European goes from strength to strength across print and online, offering a pro-European perspective on Brexit and reporting on the political response to the coronavirus outbreak, climate change and international politics. But we can only rebalance the right wing extremes of much of the UK national press with your support. If you value what we are doing, you can help us by making a contribution to the cost of our journalism.

Become a supporter

You've seen the news, now discover the story

The New European is committed to providing in-depth analysis of the Brexit process, its implications and progress as well as celebrating European life.

Try 13 weeks for £20

Latest Articles

Most Read

latest issue

ANTI-BREXIT EVENTS

Find your nearest pro-European campaigning activities, talks, protests and events nationwide.