Sedwill reveals TV adverts planned to boost no-deal Brexit preparations

Written by John Johnston on 1 March 2019 in News

Cabinet secretary says government will boost messages to urge businesses and citizens to prepare for possible no-deal EU exit next month

Photo: ParliamentTV

TV advertisements urging businesses and the public to prepare for a no-deal Brexit are to be aired ahead of the UK's exit from the EU, the head of Britain's civil service has said.

The plans, unveiled by cabinet secretary Mark Sedwill, form part of a series of no-deal preparations agreed by senior ministers in December to boost planning for a cliff-edge exit.

A government survey published earlier this week, 55% of British adults did not expect to be impacted by a no-deal scenario, and warned that Whitehall’s own preparation for a no-deal Brexit was being hindered by a lack of action from private firms.


The civil service chief said the new adverts would complement those which have aired on the radio since January, urging the public to renew their passports and check their travel plans.

“The information is available. We’ve been putting it out on the website for several months, that has now been complemented by some radio advertising, we have plans to bring through some TV advertising as well. So, there is a communications campaign," he told the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee.

“But of course, citizens and businesses are aware of that, but they also look at the front-pages and the news bulletins and they make a judgement, their own judgement, on the likelihood of no-deal on 29 March and that will influence their judgments about the extent to which they need to make personal preparations to do so.”

He added: “If the news started to shift, and people believe that the likelihood of no-deal, whether at the end of March or later became greater, then we would see a shift in the pattern of behaviour.”

The plans were revealed just days after the prime minister vowed to give MPs a vote on whether they would accept a no-deal exit if she fails to secure backing for her own deal.

Earlier this week, a government analysis warned that one-third of critical infrastructure projects due to be completed before the UK’s exit date were off-track, partly due to businesses failing to prepare sufficiently for a no-deal scenario.

The report added: “Despite communications from the government, there is little evidence that businesses are preparing in earnest for a no deal scenario, and evidence indicates that readiness of small and medium-sized enterprises in particular is low.”

A spokesperson for the prime minister said: "There have been radio and newspaper advertisements so far and I think there are TV advertisements that are due to follow - they are part of the public awareness campaign," they said.

"It’s about alerting people to the steps they need to take when they are leaving the EU. The purpose is to make sure people are well informed of the steps they need to take."

They added: “I don’t know how frequent they will be, but it’s part of a planned communications campaign which we set out when the cabinet agreed back in December to ensure that we initiated all relevant no-deal plans."

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