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British government unveils 'Get ready for Brexit' ad campaign as food shortage fears accelerate

British newspapers show full-page advertisements by the UK Government as part of its public information campaign to get the public and business owners ready for Brexit, September 2, 2019
DANIEL SORABJI | AFP | Getty Images

The British government has launched a public information campaign urging businesses and individuals to prepare for Brexit.

The "Get ready for Brexit" ads will appear on TV, in newspapers, on social media and billboards, and is reported to have cost up to £100 million ($120.8 million). It will be accompanied by road shows and events aimed at reaching groups such as U.K. citizens planning to travel to Europe after October 31 and those who export to the EU.

While it is not clear when the entire campaign will be rolled out, some ads were launched on September 1.

The campaign directs people to the gov.uk/brexit website and was launched on Sunday. An online release from the Cabinet Office and minister Michael Gove quoted government research showing that only 50% of Britons think it's likely the U.K. will leave the European Union (EU) on 31 October, and the website states: "The U.K. will leave the EU on 31 October 2019," but does not refer to leaving with or without a deal.

Those visiting the EU after Brexit will need to make sure they have their own health insurance as well as a health certificate for pets, as U.K. pet passports will no longer be valid. Any businesses that trade with the EU are invited to answer an online questionnaire to help them prepare.

"Ensuring an orderly Brexit is not only a matter of national importance, but a shared responsibility," Gove stated in the release.

Gove, the minister in charge of coordinating no-deal planning, appeared on the BBC's political review TV program "The Andrew Marr Show" on Sunday. Asked about the campaign, Gove stated: "What happens after October 31 depends on decisions on government and individuals take now. And the purpose of our campaign is to help everyone prepare for that, because if we take all the steps necessary, we can not only mitigate some of the risks, reduce some of the challenges, we can also prepare to take advantage of the opportunities of life outside the EU," Gove told Marr.

The government's Brexit readiness website does not appear to tackle any risk of food shortages.

Gove was asked whether there would be food holdups as a result of no deal. "There will be no shortages of fresh food," Gove stated. Food shortages are a risk factor in the government's leaked "Yellowhammer" documents, which the minister said detailed a worst-case scenario. On Sunday, the British Retail Consortium said that it was "categorically untrue that the supply of fresh food would be unaffected under a no deal Brexit," in an online statement.

Previous large publicly-funded information campaigns include the launch of Britain's National Health Service in 1948 and a "Don't die of ignorance," ad campaign about AIDS prevention in 1986, then the government's largest ever public health campaign.

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British newspapers show full-page advertisements by the UK Government as part of its public information campaign to get the public and business owners ready for Brexit, September 2, 2019
DANIEL SORABJI | AFP | Getty Images