UK Top News

Brexit with a smile - UK launches EU exit preparedness campaign

Police officers walk past Anti-Brexit demonstrators outside the Houses of Parliament in London, Britain, January 8, 2019. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls

LONDON (Reuters) - A smiling construction worker, a grinning farmer and a jolly pensioner: these are the cartoon faces the government is using to try to reassure Britons that the country can cope with a no-deal Brexit.

A cheery illustrated banner on a new government website sits atop links to information on how to prepare for a no-deal Brexit that critics have said could cause food and medicine shortages, long border delays and widespread economic disruption.

On Tuesday, the government launched the site with a low-key public information campaign consisting of adverts on commercial radio stations and tweets from some government departments.

A radio advert broadcast on LBC radio at around 0530 GMT featured a range of voice actors asking questions about renewing passports, mobile phone charges, and exporting goods. It directed them to the new website for answers.

The site covers all exit scenarios and includes previously published advice on topics ranging from new restrictions on taking pets on holiday, to extra paperwork when importing goods from the bloc.

With less than three months until Britain leaves the EU, Prime Minister Theresa May is struggling to win parliamentary approval for her Brexit deal, increasing the chances that the country ends up leaving without a deal.

A no-deal exit is the default scenario if May’s deal is rejected, and the prospect of supply chain disruption and blocked ports has in recent weeks pushed companies and the government to ramp up contingency planning.

Some Brexit supporters say a no-deal exit is the only way to truly leave the bloc, and that warnings of the economic consequences have been overblown to drum up support for May’s deal.

The department in charge of no-deal planning did little to herald the launch of the information campaign on Tuesday, but has previously said it would be stepped up in coming weeks to include billboard advertisements and other media.

Reporting by William James; editing by Stephen Addison