‘New start: let’s get going’: Brexit information campaign warns Britons of risks as full departure looms

Talk of ‘opportunity’ likened to Orwell-style ‘Newspeak’ – as advice highlights perils from new travel rules, bigger phone bills and border chaos

Rob Merrick
Deputy Political Editor
Sunday 12 July 2020 22:52
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What happens next in the post-Brexit negotiations?

Britons will be warned about the risks from new travel rules, higher roaming charges and border chaos for traders when Brexit is completed, as a new information campaign is launched.

Ministers have chosen the slogan “The UK’s new start: let’s get going” for the adverts that will run on television, radio and the internet, as well as in text messages to be sent out.

A strapline reading “Check, Change, Go” will direct people and businesses to a website for detailed advice on steps to take – with full departure from the EU looming on 31 December.

Travellers are told to ensure they have comprehensive travel insurance, that their passports are valid for long enough and to contact a vet at least four months in advance if taking a pet.

Companies exporting or importing with the EU – who will be hit by leaving the single market and customs union – must register with the relevant customs authority.

However, there is no mention of previously acknowledged dangers from a no-deal Brexit, including food, fuel and medicine shortages – despite a crash-out remaining a real prospect.

And ministers have refused to reveal the cost of the campaign, after criticism of the £100m spent on the “Get Ready for Brexit” adverts that ran last year.

Ed Davey, the acting Liberal Democrat leader, said firms would greet the advice with “utter horror” – while the head of the pro-EU European Movement described talk of “opportunity” as “what George Orwell called Newspeak”.

The campaign is launched after the government announced £705m will be spent on carrying out post-Brexit trade checks, including building what was dubbed a “pointless lorry park in Kent”.

But Michael Gove, the cabinet office minister, vowed there would be no turning back from what he called “a new start for everyone in the UK”.

“At the end of this year, we are leaving the single market and customs union regardless of the type of agreement we reach with the EU. This will bring changes and significant opportunities for which we all need to prepare,” he said.

“While we have already made great progress in getting ready for this moment, there are actions that businesses and citizens must take now to ensure we are ready to hit the ground running as a fully independent United Kingdom.”

The campaign also warns EU citizens in the UK that they must apply for “settled status“ before the deadline of June next year.

Stephen Dorrell, of the European Movement and a former Tory cabinet minister, said: “For decades, Britain has argued the case for open markets and our economy has prospered as a consequence.

“Now Michael Gove invites us to celebrate the erection of ‘the world’s most effective border’, which will destroy jobs and remove opportunities from UK citizens.”

And Sir Ed said: “Businesses right across the UK have struggled to survive financially over the past few months as a result of the coronavirus crisis.

“The fact the government is now trying to force them to gear up and prepare for the end of the transition period will fill them with utter horror.”

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