UK Independence Party (UKIP) leader Nigel Farage has challenged the Prime Minister David Cameron to a “live, televised, head-to-head debate” on the claims made in a recent government pamphlet sent to all British households ahead of the upcoming referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union.
The pamphlet, entitled Why the Government believes that voting to remain in the European Union is the best decision for the UK began dropping onto doormats across the country earlier this week amid heavy criticism from pro-Brexit campaigners and the general public alike.
Along with concerns about the more than £12 million cost to distribute and advertise the leaflet, blowing the official spending limit of £7m for each side out of the water, pro-Brexit campaigners have disputed the government’s claims that it is simply intended to convey the facts of the debate, pointing out that it is full of partisan ‘information’.
It was that criticism that Mr Farage honed in on today, the first day of the official campaigning period, when he delivered his leaflet back to the Prime Minister’s official residence, No. 10 Downing Street, along with a ‘Return to Sender’ letter.
“The document is jammed full of lies and inaccuracies including the claim that we currently control our borders. We don’t. It is outrageous to suggest otherwise,” he wrote.
“It repeats oft debunked ‘facts’ that have been trotted out time and time by pro-Remain politicians, such as your erstwhile former Government colleague Nick Clegg, for instance the assertion that 3 million jobs depend on our continued membership of the EU.
“You may not be surprised to hear that the original source of the figure, LSE Professor Iain Begg, has criticised the pro-EU camp for repeatedly misrepresenting him and that the assertion has been a ‘persistent misrepresentation’.
“I could go on, but it seems to me that the only accurate facts within in the entire document can be found on pages 3 and 16.”
Page 3 reads “This is your chance to decide your own future and the future of the United Kingdom. It is important that you vote,” while page 16 calls the referendum a “once in a generation decision.”
Mr Farage added of the leaflet: “Legally it is questionable and morally it is wrong,” before concluding with an invitation to the Prime Minster to defend the claims made within the leaflet.
“Name your place and time and let’s have a live, televised, head-to-head debate where we can debate one of the greatest political questions of our time,” he said.
The decision to send out the leaflet has been generally attributed to Mr Cameron, with many returned leaflets being sent to Downing St by the public. But as Members of Parliament gathered in the Commons to debate its distribution earlier this week, Mr Cameron left it to his Minister for Europe, David Lidington MP to make the case for its distribution.
“The leaflet sets out the facts, explains why the Government believe that a vote to remain in the European Union is in the best interests of the British people and shows some of the choices that the country would face if the British people were to vote to leave,” Mr Lidington said.
In response Conservative MP John Redwood said “this leaflet is not so much “Project Fear” as “Project Slightly Worrying”, because it has been dumbed down,” and called its distribution “an abuse of public money and an insult to the electors.”
All pictures copyright Rachel Megawhat/Breitbart London