Brexit Department bought 50 times as many copies of the Financial Times as any other newspaper

Embargoed: 00:01 Friday 21 February

TaxPayers' Alliance analysis of a sample of government newspaper purchases has revealed that the Financial Times was the paper of choice for the Department for Exiting the European Union during the period of major Brexit deadlock.

While they had a total of 101 subscriptions to the Financial Times, which opposed the core work of the Department for Exiting the European Union[4], they had no more than two subscriptions to any other newspaper. In the same year, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office had 25 per cent more subscriptions to the Guardian than the Daily Mail

A sample showed five government departments spent £898,063 on a combination of online and physical newspapers from 2016-17 to 2018-19. 

Despite having online subscriptions to most papers, several departments purchased substantial numbers of printed copies.

Key Findings

Overall spending 

  • From 2016-17 to 2018-19, the total amount spent by five government departments on newspapers was £898,063.
  • The Foreign and Commonwealth Office spent the most on subscriptions, spending £725,286 on 292 national newspaper and online newspaper subscriptions from 2016-17 to 2018-19.
  • The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport had the largest year on year increase in spending on newspaper subscriptions with a rise of more than 110 per cent between 2017-18 and 2018-19.

Individual paper subscriptions

  • The department with the largest number of subscriptions to a single newspaper was the Department for Exiting the European Union, which had 100 online subscriptions to the Financial Times. This was 100 times more than any other paper. They had only 1 subscription to the Daily Telegraph and the Times
  • 24 printed daily copies of the Times were delivered to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in 2018-19; an increase of 50 per cent from 2017-18.
  • Since 2016, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office bought almost 25 per cent more copies of the Guardian than the Daily Mail.

Darwin Friend, researcher at the TaxPayers' Alliance said: 

"Bureaucrats should be more careful to keep in touch with taxpayers' views. 

"Civil servants should have a sensible spread of news sources, while keeping costs as low as possible, instead of pouring public money into papers which pronounce from a particular political perspective. 

"In the 21st century, departments should be moving to a more representative spread of good value online subscriptions." 


TPA spokesmen are available for live and pre-recorded broadcast interviews via 07795 084 113 (no texts)


Media contact:

Sam Packer
Media Campaign Manager, TaxPayers' Alliance
[email protected]
24-hour media hotline: 07795 084 113 (no texts)

  1. Founded in 2004 by Matthew Elliott and Andrew Allum, the TaxPayers’ Alliance (TPA) fights to reform taxes, reduce spending and protect taxpayers. Find out more about the TaxPayers' Alliance at

  2. TaxPayers' Alliance's advisory council.

  3. This research was assembled from parliamentary questions asked to five government departments by Philip Davies MP. The question asked the following:
    How much the Department has spent on purchasing (a) national newspapers and (b) newspaper online subscriptions since 2016; and how many copies of each national newspaper were purchased in that time period.

  4. On 26 February 2019, the Financial Times said in an editorial entitled 'Parliament should use a delay to rethink Brexit': "Leaving the EU was always an act of grievous self-harm for the UK, severing its privileged links with its biggest trading partner and a single market of more than 500m people, harming its security and diminishing its standing in the world." 
This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience.  More info. Okay