'Campaign mode' - strong Brexit message slowly reinvigorating Government departments

After being given greater clarity about the need to leave the EU at the end of October, public affairs professionals are beginning to see Government departments spring back into life.

Is a stronger message over Brexit giving fresh impetus to Government departments? (©GettyImages)
Is a stronger message over Brexit giving fresh impetus to Government departments? (©GettyImages)

The new Prime Minister Boris Johnson quickly stacked his cabinet with leading Brexiteers, and appointed a number of key advisers and senior aides from the Vote Leave campaign.

PRWeek asked public affairs pros how the messaging from Government and departments has changed since Johnson became PM.

Responses initially focused on how British businesses are quickly adapting their communications plans to the realisation that the Johnson government is likely to force the nation out of the European Union without a deal.

Furthermore, with Brexit taking up all the bandwidth over the last three years, policy ideas are starting to trickle out where there was previously stagnation.

However, some have been more well recieved than others. Plans to hire 20,000 more police were welcomed but the annoucement of #knifefree messaging in chicken shops has been heavilty criticised and branded "explicitly racist or unfathomably stupid" by Labour MP David Lammy, as well as a raft of PR pros.

Head of public affairs at PLMR Mo Hussein said he though the messaging has become more campaign-like in its nature. "The NHS and law and order are the big domestic issues being championed, tapping into how the public feel about them and the concerns they have."

Although he added: "Speaking to people in Government, there is no real sense of long-term planning until Brexit is delivered."

Director at Beattie Group Chris Gilmour agreed the language has become more active. "We have seen releases focused on inclusivity, crime and terrorism ,and opportunities for qualifications, technology and space, as they seek to show they are focussed on more than the October deadline."

UK Finance speaks on behalf of the banking and finance industry. Rebecca Park, MD of external affairs at the organisation, said the tone was very different and the sector was working with the Government to help create a post-Brexit vision that helps keep the UK competitive on an international playing field.

Park hopes the Government would get behind their campaign to highlight how SMEs can prepare for 'no deal'.

Emma Petela, director at GK Strategy, said some businesses have started to look seriously at the prospect of a 'no deal' and asked how they can get the best out of that situation.

"There remains a desire to see movement on some of the areas where Brexit has led to policy stagnation," she said. "For organisations operating in areas like social care and education, for example, there is a sense of hope – mixed with scepticism that the new Cabinet will drive forward much-needed change."

Scott Dodsworth, head of political and public affairs at H+K UK, added: "There is a renewed focus from departments, in campaign mode - things are actually happening - beyond Brexit. Movement and moving is the message from government and departments. It is not quite business as usual, but it is business at least!"

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