The unveiling of the European Referendum Bill may contain “European-style” provisions for political parties to get a proportional allowance to spend on their own referendum campaigns, leading to concerns that the ‘In’ campaign will be able to spend more than double what the ‘Out’ campaign can.
This is in addition to David Cameron’s new £7m threshold that the official In and Out sides will be allowed to spend.
Speaking to Breitbart London, sources close to UKIP’s leader Nigel Farage discussed how the parliamentary bill, due for its second reading on Tuesday, June 9th, may give political parties a proportional amount of money to spend separate to that of the official campaigns. The amounts are to be based on percentage share of the vote at the last general election, for national parties that obtained one seat or more in Westminster.
Originally the figures discussed were £5m for the Conservative Party, £4m for Labour, £3m for UKIP, and £2m for the Liberal Democrats. But since the publication of the bill, it has been claimed that Mr Cameron’s government intends to raise these figures by up to 40 percent.
This means that the Conservatives will get to spend an extra £7m, the same as the Labour Party, while the Liberal Democrats will get a £2.8m allowance, and UKIP would be allowed to spend £4.2m. The numbers seemed to be confirmed by the Financial Times‘s Jim Pickard via his Twitter feed this morning, and would mean that the pro-EU camp could spend nearly £24m in total, compared to the anti-EU camp’s £11.2m.
In addition to this, Eurosceptics have been outraged by the fact that Mr Cameron raised the spending threshold from £5m to £7m – claiming that the ‘In’ or ‘Yes’ campaign will find it far easier to fundraise given big corporate interest in remaining inside the European Union.
Today, Britain’s Electoral Commission also expressed “disappointment” that the government seems to have scrapped the customary “purdah” period at this election – the 28 days before an election in which government announcements and inducements are prohibited.
The Commission issued a formal statement today: “We are therefore disappointed and concerned that the Bill includes provision to remove the restrictions on the use of public funds by governments and others to promote an outcome right up until voters cast their vote.
“In the Commission’s view, there is a risk that the use of significant amounts of public money for promotional activity could give an unfair advantage to one side of the argument.”
“That is absolutely outrageous,” a Ukip spokesman told the Financial Times on the issue. “Now there is nothing to stop, let’s say, the European Commission suddenly announcing that they are giving broadband to the entire country on the eve of the poll.”