POLITICS

Jeremy Corbyn Slams Cameron's £9m Pro-EU Leaflet As He Calls For 'More Even Approach' To Referendum Information

Labour leader wants balanced info for the public

13/04/2016 14:38 | Updated 13 April 2016
Andrew Matthews/PA Wire

Jeremy Corbyn has attacked the Government for spending more than £9m of taxpayers' cash on its pro-EU referendum leaflet.

Ahead of a big speech on Europe, the Labour leader stressed that voters wanted a "more even approach" to the information distributed ahead of the June 23 poll.

His remarks chime with criticism across the political spectrum after David Cameron's government sent out the controversial leaflet to every home in the UK this week.

Labour supporters have claimed that the multi-million pound cost of the 'propaganda' would have been better spent on funding the NHS and other public services, and many have sent the leaflet back to Downing Street complete with graffiti.

Tory Eurosceptic voters and MPs have also attacked the leaflets, which ministers claim simply tell 'the facts' about the risks of quitting the EU.

The official 'Remain' and 'Leave' campaigns have their own spending capped at £7m.

A spokesman for the Labour leader said suggested that a sense of fairness was what underpinned his views.

"Jeremy is of the view that there should have been an even approach to the information to allow everyone to make an informed decision," he said.

When pressed by HuffPost UK on the issue, the spokesman said: "There should be a more even approach to the information. [But] we will continue to campaign to remain in.”

Members of one We Support Jeremy Corbyn Facebook group have made their feelings clear on the issue.

Facebook
One angry Labour response to the leaflet
Facebook
Another graffiti-covered leaflet

Mr Corbyn is set to give his strong backing to the 'Remain' campaign in a speech on Thursday, highlighting his personal 'journey' from someone who voted to leave the Common Market in the 1970s but who now believed it was right to stay in the EU.

But the Labour leader believes that the public are owed a fairer presentation of both sides of the argument if taxpayers' money is used in the campaign.

Dan Kitwood/PA Wire

It is understood that Mr Corbyn believes that a one-sided leaflet is not the right way to spend public funds.

Mr Corbyn, who has made opposition to Tory spending cuts a centrepiece of his leadership, is also determined not to share any platforms with Mr Cameron and will only back Labour's own 'In' campaign.

'Brexit' campaigners have complained bitterly that the £9.3m leaflet is an 'outrageous' use of public money and Tory MPs have demanded that a similar sum be spent on a rival leaflet making the case for quitting the EU.

Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
Former leader Ed Miliband with Alan Johnson, leader of the 'Labour In' campaign

Mr Corbyn's spokesman refused to say if he would back Tory calls for a rival 'Brexit' leaflet and it is unlikely he would support one given his main concern appears to be that the cash could be better spent on hard-pressed public services.

Some Labour critics of their leader have felt that his support for the 'Remain' campaign has been too lukewarm to date.

Even allies suspect he still harbours worries that the EU is a "bosses' Europe" rather than a "workers' Europe".

Mr Corbyn has stressed that he wants reform of the European Union to give more protections to workers and trade unions, but in his speech he will make clear that 'Brexit' would be the worst way to get change.

Andrew Matthews/PA Archive

The trade union Unison became the latest union to back the 'Remain' campaign today.

The public sector union joins Unite and GMB, which between them represent more than 3 million workers, in supporting the In camp.

Downing Street today responded to Mr Corbyn's criticism. The Prime Minister's spokeswoman said: "We have been clear from the outset that the Government is not neutral in this debate and we are following the precedent of the previous [1975] referendum."

She added that the Leave and Remain official campaigns would both benefit from taxpayers' money.

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