Raising awareness of no-deal Brexit could backfire on the government

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Protect and survive! The government will spend up to £100m on advertising to tell British businesses and households how they can get ready for a no deal Brexit, the Telegraph reveals

It underlines the public and private word from government ministers, and indeed the explicit logic of the Johnson administration's negotiating objectives: that a no deal Brexit is not a fallback option but the preferred route of the government, with the only question whether Parliament can find some mechanism to prevent a no deal Brexit now that there is not an anti-no deal Prime Minister in Downing Street. 

But the adverts have a political importance in of themselves. The first, of course, is that while £100m is, as far as government spending, nothing at all – to put in it to perspective, if the all the words in this email represented government spending, £100m wouldn't even be a comma – it is a big number as far as you and I are concerned. You don't have to be a political genius to see how Labour will be able to finesse that into an argument about spending priorities and the cuts. 

The second, and bigger consequence is that if these adverts have any use at all as far as public awareness goes, they won't be good for the government. Just as the old adverts about what to do in the event of a nuclear conflict boosted the activities of CND and the rest, the more serious the preparation for no deal, the harder the opposition from large parts of the country, and, of course, the more noticeable the preparations taken by the state and the private sector will be.

Stephen Bush is political editor of the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics.