EU Referendum

Eurosceptics liken PM to Mugabe over EU leaflets: Backbenchers line up to attack ‘abuse of public money’ as Government struggles to defend its decision

  • David Cameron accused of ‘spiv Robert Mugabe antics’ in Parliament
  • Tory backbenchers accuse Government of ‘abusing public money’
  • It comes as £9.3million is being spent on pro-EU leaflet campaign
  • All homes in England will receive mailshot through the post tomorrow

David Cameron was accused of ‘spiv Robert Mugabe antics’ last night as his government sought to defend its decision to spend £9.3million of taxpayers’ money on a pro-EU mailshot.

Conservative backbenchers lined up to accuse the Government of an ‘abuse of public money’ in sending the document to every house in the nation.

A former minister branded it a ‘dodgy dossier sequel’, while another said it would drive more towards the Brexit camp.

Yesterday John Longworth, forced out of the British Chambers of Commerce owing to his Eurosceptic views, called the Government a pro-Brussels ‘campaign group’ which cannot be trusted.

David Cameron, pictured, has been slammed over the Government's £9.3million pro-EU leaflet campaign

The 16-page mailshot began yesterday, with all homes in England set to receive them by tomorrow. Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish voters will get theirs after their devolved elections in May.

It makes a series of assertions disputed by Leave campaigners, including the claim that Mr Cameron’s reforms have given Britain a meaningful ‘special status’ in the EU.

And it says we should stay in the EU because its members ‘buy 44 per cent of everything we sell abroad’.

The Leave camp claims we would still be able to trade if we left.

The leaflet claims 3million jobs are linked to exports to EU countries, and that membership makes it attractive for foreign companies to invest in the UK.

It also says leaving would cause ‘pressure’ on the pound, and argues: ‘If the UK voted to leave the EU the resulting economic shock would risk higher prices of some household goods.’

David Cameron makes ‘no apology’ for anti-Brexit leaflet

And it claims EU membership makes it easier to keep criminals and terrorists out.

Mr Longworth told the Mail last night he was ‘incensed’ by the Government move, adding: ‘We can’t believe anything they say because they are a campaigning organisation.’

In a stormy Commons session, Europe Minister David Lidington was forced to defend the booklet, insisting none of its facts were ‘over-egging the pudding’.

He said the leaflets cost only 34 pence per household – and insisted the Government was ‘not neutral’ in the debate.

But he was met with a barrage of criticism from Tory backbenchers over the document being sent to 27million households across the UK.

Former Tory vice-chairman Nigel Evans compared ministers to the Zimbabwean leader.

Some have even likened the Prime Minister to Zimbabwe leader Robert Mugabe, pictured, over the scheme

‘If I witnessed in any of the countries that I go to the sort of spiv Robert Mugabe antics that I’ve seen by this government then I would condemn the conduct of that election as being not fair,’ he said.

An angry Mr Lidington reminded him that campaigns in Zimbabwe involved ‘murder, maiming and intimidation of voters’ – suggesting Mr Evans’ outburst ‘was not his finest moment in the House’.

John Redwood, former Welsh secretary and Tory leadership candidate, said the leaflet was an ‘insult to the electorate’, adding: ‘Does he not realise that it will drive many more people to vote to leave?’

And former defence secretary Liam Fox called the leaflet ‘Dodgy Dossier the Sequel’, in reference to a Blair government document in favour of the Iraq War.

But Mr Lidington said it was ‘entirely lawful’ and did not need to be balanced because ‘the Government is not neutral in this debate’.

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