Government plays down possibility of no-deal in advertising shift

The government has changed the wording of its Get Ready for Brexit campaign appearing to suggest a no-deal exit on the 31 October is now less likely.

Its website now says: “We could still leave with no deal on 31 October.”

The wording has been altered from earlier this month, when it said: “The UK is due to leave on 31 October.”

The tweak comes after MPs backed a move to delay approval of the deal. The government has insisted it will still meet the 31 October deadline.

It has vowed to press ahead with the legislation – the Withdrawal Agreement Bill (WAB) – to implement the Brexit deal next week.

Prominent logos on the website saying “Brexit 31 October” also appear to have been removed.

The campaign, aimed at preparing businesses and the public for leaving the European Union, has previously been criticised by members of the public arguing the ads are inaccurate for implying the UK will definitely leave on that date.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said last month it would not investigate the ads, saying the 31 October departure date was the “date that has been declared by the government”.

“This therefore currently remains the default date that the public will consider as the official ‘leave’ date for the UK, as agreed with the EU, last autumn,” the ASA said in September.

No deal risk ‘increased’

Cabinet minister Michael Gove, who is in charge of no-deal Brexit planning, told Sky News’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday the government now planned to step up preparations for a no-deal Brexit, including triggering its “Operation Yellowhammer” contingency plans.

“The risk of leaving without a deal has actually increased because we cannot guarantee that the European Council will grant an extension,” he said.

The information campaign urging the public and businesses to “get ready for Brexit” was launched in early September.

The campaign is reported to have cost the government £100m and has run on billboards as well as in social media adverts and on TV.