Vote Leave campaigners are today left reeling after it was disclosed that the government was to shell out £9.3 million, of what is deemed to be taxpayers’ money, on leaflets that will spell out the pros of staying in the EU. Leaflets that, over the coming weeks, will be delivered to every single household in the country. As is usually the case, the country has been left divided by their respective political allegiances; Eurosceptics are furious, Europhiles rather grateful. But what exactly is Cameron’s aim with these leaflets?
Vote Remain campaigners have argued that the country has a right to understand the implications of Brexit, what the benefits of staying in the EU are, and what it means for future generations. They say that the 14-page leaflet, that’s going to be delivered to 27 million homes around the country, is a hard, factual response to the public’s demand for more information on Brexit.
But this move by Whitehall has sparked outcry over the amount of money spent on the leaflets and has left the likes of Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage hitting back with a series of claims that could backfire on – and ultimately be detrimental to – the Vote Remain campaign.
The leaflet from Vote Remain
The Mayor of London has called the leaflets “a total waste of money”, and stated that Remain is wrong to “stampede” voters by forcing the leaflet through their doors. He said earlier today that he would have been more open to the idea of the leaflet if it had told both sides of the story, if it hadn’t been an exercise in political bias. UKIP head Farage, as expected, also voiced his opinion stating that the document was “full of lies” and a “scam”. Robert Oxley, a Vote Leave spokesman told the BBC:
“I think it is deeply disappointing that the government is going to spend taxpayers’ money in a bid to distract the media headlines away from the allegations of offshore banks that have dogged the prime minister. Our money should not be used on propaganda, trying to buy votes. We already send £350m to Brussels each week. We should spend our money on our priorities like the NHS.”
Damian Green, board member for the Britain Stronger In Europe campaign group, told BBC Radio 4’s The World Tonight that ministers were giving people the information they had been asking for:
“People have been crying out for facts. The government has produced a factual leaflet. Both sides will get a leaflet funded by the Electoral Commission during the actual period itself. That’s what’s fair.”
Officials have also claimed it’s entirely legitimate for the government to make a case on the side it supports, noting that there’s not legal reasons permitting it from doing so.
While it can easily be argued that all of the right intentions were there from Cameron and Vote Remain, there seems to have been a huge error of judgement and one that has backfired on the campaign as a whole; not least in that the information has come too early. The government has always been in agreement that no taxpayers money would ever be spent promoting Remain or Leave, so what started out as a pretty sour week for Cameron following his family’s implication in the Panama Papers, only seems only to have got worse. Watch this space and Godspeed, Cameron.
(Main image & featured image: Getty)