- European Commission expected to launch a long ‘information’ campaign
- EC not forced to adhere to British election laws, giving it greater power
- Vote Leave campaign have called for donations to match pro-EU campaign
Voters are expected to receive endless pro-Europe propaganda ahead of the all-important vote on whether Britain should remain in the EU.
Due to the European Commission being based overseas, it is not forced to adhere to the strict British election rules on the amount of leaflets and posters produced for their pro-EU campaign.
Campaigners for Vote Leave have raised concerns that they face an uphill battle against the greater finances of the pro-Europe campaign.
They have called for public donations in a bid to match their rivals ahead of the long campaign.
Matthew Elliott, chief executive of the Vote Leave group told the Telegraph: ‘The referendum rules have been rigged so that pro-EU campaigners can hugely outspend the leave campaign,’
‘All UK-based campaigners will have spending limits placed on them. The only organisation exempt from these rules will be the EU itself.
‘UK voters can expect to hear a barrage of pro-EU propaganda from ‘eurocrats’ during the referendum,’ he said.
He urged people to back the campaign, calling on people to ‘take back control from the EU’.
The warning comes as a former Tory leader Michael Howard warned the Conservative party that they could split apart unless David Cameron allows a free vote for ministers in the EU referendum.
Michael Howard, leader from 2003 to 2005, became the most senior figure to say prominent Cabinet ministers should retain their seats at the top table even if they campaign in favour of a vote to leave.
He told the BBC that both sides of the argument had to be treated with respect and ministers should be allowed to campaign for an EU exit if they wanted.
Lord Howard warned that, if this was not granted, Conservative ministers may not be able to work together effectively and provide good government after the referendum.
The Prime Minister presented his bid to reform the EU at the European Council summit earlier this month.
Conservative sources said last week that ministers had received private assurances they would be allowed to campaign for Brexit without resigning.
But Downing Street says no decision on a free vote will be made until negotiations finish in February.
The intervention from Lord Howard is significant because he was Mr Cameron’s mentor – he gave him a job as an advisor and groomed him for leadership.
It also puts him at odds with another former leader, Sir John Major, who wants all ministers to put up a united front in the run-up to the vote.
Last week former Chancellor Lord Lawson also called for a free vote. But Lord Heseltine, the former deputy prime minister, said such a move would spark ‘civil war’ in the Tory party.
Mr Cameron wants to get a new deal for the UK before putting its membership to a referendum, which has been promised by the end of 2017.