Government to produce Brexit prep mugs and t-shirts, but rejects Take Back Control slogan for £100m comms drive

Communication plan rejected a repeat of the Vote Leave campaign’s slogan as too partisan, according to report

Now PM Boris Johnson and Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove in front of Vote Leave slogan after winning 2016 EU exit referendum. Photo: PA

By Kevin Schofield

30 Aug 2019

The government is to launch a £100m nationwide communications drive to tell people to “get ready” for Brexit on 31 October, it has been revealed, while prime minister Boris Johnson has called for talks between UK and EU negotiators to intensify in search for a last-minute deal.

According to The Times, Michael Gove, the Cabinet Office minister who is in charge of preparations for a no-deal Brexit and has said such an outcome is now the government’s working assumption, has signed off on the campaign and it will be launched next week.

A plan to repeat the 'Take Back Control slogan used by the Vote Leave campaign in the 2016 referendum was considered by No.10 Downing Street, according to the paper, but rejected because it could be seen as too partisan, the paper said.


Billboards and a government website will be used to kick off the campaign, which is aimed at ensuring members of the public and businesses are ready for the UK leaving the EU at Hallowe'en with or without a deal.

Radio and TV adverts could also follow in the weeks leading up to exit day.

The government has even ordered t-shirts and mugs emblazoned with the 'Get Ready' message ahead of its launch, The Times said.

Theresa May also ordered an advertising campaign in the run-up to the 29 March Brexit deadline, but it was lower-key than what the government is now planning.

Johnson first mooted his plans for a high-profile ad blitz during the Tory leadership campaign.

He said: "What we will do, is we will encourage people in a very positive way. From the get-go, we start saying, ‘Look, what do you need, what help do you need, what reassurances do you need?’

"Agricultural farmers in Wales . . . fishermen, everybody, just-in-time supply chains, here is what the Government has for you, are you ready?

"And we make sure that everybody understands all the risks and eventualities, and it’s by doing that . . . in a really wholehearted and systematic and confident way, that you, of course, minimise any disruption that might take place in the unlikely eventuality of you having to come out on WTO [World Trade Organisation] terms."

The details of the communication drive comes as Johnson said Brexit talks between UK and EU negotiators are to intensify as both sides seek a last-minute deal.

The prime minister said it was time to "step up the tempo" just two months before the UK is set to leave the bloc on 31 October.

Downing Street said senior aides from both sides will meet twice a week throughout September, with the possibility of additional meetings, in the hope of reaching a new agreement.

Earlier this week, No.110 sources claimed there had been a shift in attitude on the EU side, raising hopes that the existing deal could be re-negotiated and the Irish backstop removed.

However, government sources have also admitted that both sides "remain some distance apart" as the clock ticks down towards the Hallowe'en deadline.

The prime minister said: "I have said right from my first day in office that we are ready to work in an energetic and determined way to get a deal done.

"While I have been encouraged with my discussions with EU leaders over recent weeks that there is a willingness to talk about alternatives to the anti-democratic backstop, it is now time for both sides to step up the tempo.

"The increase in meetings and discussions is necessary if we are to have a chance of agreeing a deal for when we leave on October 31st, no ifs no buts."

His comments come against the backdrop of a bitter row over the PM's decision to suspend Parliament for five weeks from the middle of next month.

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