Boris Johnson’s ad campaign urging people and businesses to prepare for leaving the EU on 31 October cost taxpayers almost £5m in just a month.
The government unveiled a £100m “Get Ready for Brexit” campaign at the end of August, promising an advertising blitz across billboards, TV and radio, as well as a revamped website.
Newly released figures revealed that the Cabinet Office forked out more than £4.9m on the campaign at the end of August and throughout September. The true cost is likely to rise when figures for spending in October are published.
The lion’s share of the budget went to advertising giant Manning Gottlieb, which received over £3m in a series of payments made on one day at the end of September.
London-based agency Engine, which has carried out campaigns for the RAF and Nato, and WPP agency Wavemaker also received large chunks of the budget.
Over the two-month period the government also forked out more than £3.6m for Brexit-related consultancy services to firms including PWC, Deloitte and EY.
Much of the ad spending, first reported by the Evening Standard, occurred after MPs passed the Benn Act on 9 September, preventing Johnson from pursuing a no-deal Brexit if he could not secure a deal.
However, the 31 October date was still technically enshrined in law until the EU agreed to an extension, and the campaign was only paused on 28 October when the delay was confirmed.
A Conservative party spokesperson said it was “absolutely right” to use the ad campaign to prepare people for leaving the EU.
“Parliamentary deadlock cannot be allowed to stop Brexit or preparing the country for the fact we will be leaving,” the spokesperson added.