Row erupts after government spends £9m on pro-EU leaflet

7 Apr 16

Ministers have defended spending £9.3m to send a leaflet to every household across the UK setting out why the government is campaigning for an In vote in June’s EU referendum.

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The leaflet will begin to be sent out next week and will contain information on the UK’s membership of the union ahead of the referendum on 23 June.

Announcing the distribution, environment secretary Liz Truss said independent polling carried out on behalf of the government made clear that 85% of people want more information from the government to help them make their decision.

“This referendum will be a huge decision for our country, perhaps the biggest we will make in our lifetimes and it is crucial that the public have clear and accessible information,” she said.
“The document makes clear why EU membership brings economic security, peace and stability. It also sets out that if the UK voted to leave, the resulting economic shock would put pressure on the value of the pound, which would risk higher prices of some household goods.”

According to the Cabinet Office, the leaflet sets out the facts, explains why the government believes a vote to remain in the EU is in the best interests of the UK, and shows some of the choices the country would face if it were to leave. It will also encourage the public to register to vote by the 7 June and directs them to where they can do this.

The total cost of the leaflet is £9.3m. In addition to the government leaflet, the groups designated as lead campaigns for the leave and remain sides will have public funding made available to them from the Electoral Commission to produce their own leaflet. This is alongside the Electoral Commission’s own leaflet to every household, in which both campaigns will be given a page each.

However, the Vote Leave campaign said that the government had previously promised not to send leaflets to households, or undertake paid or online advertising.

Spokesman Robert Oxley accused Number Ten of trying to distract the media’s attention from the issue of whether the prime minister’s family money is kept in offshore trusts following revelations contained in the Panama Papers.
“The government promised that it would not take on the lead role in the referendum, so it’s disgraceful that they’re spending taxpayers’ money which could go to the NHS on EU propaganda instead,” he said.
“We should vote leave on 23 June to stop Brussels taking £350m of our money every week and spend our money on our priorities like the NHS.”

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