Steven Woolfe MEP for North West England and Economics Spokesman for the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), has written this article for Get Britain:
Rigging the EU Referendum is an Insult to Democracy
It was mooted before the European Union Referendum Bill 2015 entered the House of Commons that it would be favoured towards a YES vote in some way, shape or form. We have now got our first glimpse of what’s to come after the Purdah amendment was voted through the House (bar the 25 Eurosceptics and SNP). Before this we had votes for 16/17 year olds, as well as the funding disparity and you now start to get a picture of how this is going to play out.
One would think that if the YES side were so confident Britain should stay in the EU and the EU is the best place for Britain’s economy to thrive, all this rigging of the Referendum would be very unnecessary. This is unless, of course, they’re not actually that confident and are rather worried the British electorate may actually vote to leave. So this leaves me thinking renegotiations can’t be going at all well for The Prime Minister to be doing this. I get the image in my head of Cameron suffering from a feeling of monachopsis while meeting leaders from around the EU on his ‘reform tour’!
So when Cameron cries out he isn’t trying to rig the vote – and he will – we must remind him the YES campaign’s funding might amount to some £17 million, while the NO campaign might be limited to just £8 million. This is based on the pro-rata amount of money each political party will be allowed to spend on their campaign. These figures come with the assumptions the Tories, Labour, Lib Dems and the SNP would all support the YES campaign.
Not only is this an insult to Democracy, it’s an insult to the British people who deserve a free and fair Referendum on our membership of the EU, not a stitch up, which up to now it seems to be what we’re getting. Some people have asked why Cameron is doing this. It’s due to the fact Cameron never thought he would win a majority at the General Election and would have to follow through with his promise of the Referendum. So now he does, we’re finding him conducting himself far from how a Prime Minister should. I think seeing Dr Liam Fox MP defy the whip for the first time in 23 years says a lot about how he’s gone about putting this EU Referendum into law. If the NO side were lose in a free and fair Referendum it might actually be slightly easier to take, but losing a Referendum in which the Civil Service and Cabinet scare people into a YES vote, would be a result no one on the NO side could ever accept.
What Cameron needs to remember is that some of his MPs and a fair portion of his membership are staunch Eurosceptics, and doing what he’s doing is pushing them away. All the NO camp asks for is fair funding and the same Purdah rules as used in the Scottish Independence Referendum. The NO camp will keep on fighting for a free and fair Referendum, as the people of Great Britain have waited over 40 years to have another say on this vital issue, and they deserve a balanced argument and debate. I also hope Labour can team up with the few rebellious Tory Eurosceptics and the SNP to ensure the British people get a fair In/Out Referendum – although I personally won’t be holding my breath!