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British Social Media Spending

Government spent £100,000 on Facebook adverts to promote Brexit deal in week before vote was pulled

The government spent almost £100,000 on Facebook adverts to promote Theresa May’s Brexit deal in the week running up to her decision to pull the Commons vote.

Figures released by the social media giant showed the government spent £96,684 on 11 adverts from December 2 to 8 as it became increasingly clear the prime minister faced defeat over her deal.

It dwarfed the £50,000 the government spent on Brexit social media ads in the previous three months to November 20.

Three videos, intending to explain the deal in terms of free trade, the economy and “controlling our borders”, cost between £10,000 and £50,000 each to promote, reaching between 500,000 and 1m Facebook users apiece.

The money also included videos on “what the Brexit Deal means for you - explained in 60 seconds” and others focusing on immigration and jobs.

Last night the spending was slated as an “inappropriate” and “wasteful” use of taxpayers’ money.

Jon Trickett, Shadow Cabinet Office minister, said: "Not only is this a completely inappropriate use of public money, but it turns out to have been entirely wasted. When official resources are used for the Prime Minister's personal purposes it threatens our democracy."

Layla Moran, LibDem education spokesman, said: “Given that the vote won’t even happen now, it is an absolute insult to taxpayers that the Prime Minister has been throwing our money down the drain promoting a deal that not even she can back.”

Eloise Todd, head of the Best for Britain campaign group, said the absurdity of spending almost £100,000 on a vote that “you know you are going to pull shows flagrant disregard of taxpayers’ cash to waste it like this.”

The figures showed the Conservative Party also spent £39,967 on Facebook adverts supporting the deal. Theresa May is listed as spending £1,659. The government spending was double that of the People’s Vote, of £47,313.

The figures were published by Facebook as part of new advert transparency measures following sustained criticism of the platform through 2018. It included the Vote Leave campaign being sanctioned over advertising spending on the social network during the Brexit campaign.

A government spokesman said: “Communicating government policy effectively to the public is a core function of the Civil Service.

“We have reached a deal that is good for the UK, good for its citizens, and good for business and we will be communicating that to the country. Any costs associated with this will be published in the usual way."

Adverts have included one paid for to push it to the top of Google’s rankings and linked to a website called Brexit Deal Explained which sets out the government’s case for the EU withdrawal agreement - and warns about the dangers of a no-deal Brexit.

Another Facebook video featured the prime minister hailing the deal as offering “certainty for business and economy”, concluding: “Now is the time to come together to build a brighter future.”

DMU Timestamp: November 09, 2018 23:10





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