The government has announced that it is spending £9.3 million on pro-EU leaflets: one for each home in the country.
Over fourteen pages, the leaflet warns of the “uncertainty” of leaving the EU while simultaneously trumpeting EU membership.
Not in the spirit of a fair campaign
A spokesperson for the Electoral Commission has criticised the government’s decision to distribute the leaflets: “we don’t think the government should have done it, but it’s not illegal”. According to the Electoral Commission, the use of government funds is “not in the spirit” of a fair referendum.
Meanwhile, the Leave Campaign leader Michael Gove criticised the leaflet as being a “one-sided piece of propaganda”.
Stacking the debate in its favour
Boris Johnson accused the PM of abandoning a “fight fair” on realising that his side was “losing the argument”.
Meanwhile, Conservative MEP Daniel Hannan criticised the decision:
“There is something outrageous about spending our own money on telling us what to think.”
Like Boris, Hannan suggests that the government made its decision to distribute the leaflets because they were “starting to panic”.
Whether or not that is so, the government may come to regret its leaflets if it doesn’t already.
In an article for the Financial Times, journalist Sebastian Payne suggests that the government looks as if it is “stacking the debate its favour” because “the official Leave campaign will only be able to spend £7m.”
212,000 sign petition
A petition against the government’s use of taxpayer’s money on pro-EU leaflets has gained more than 212,000 signatures: comfortably over the 100,000 needed for it to be debated in the House of Commons.
Meanwhile, the Midlands Industrial Council plan to donate up to five million pound to the Leave Campaign.