Who is behind referendum “facts” flyer?

by Luke Lythgoe | 05.04.2016

A leaflet entitled “The UK and the European Union: the facts” is landing on doormats. To the untrained eye, it looks like a neutral piece of bumpf shedding light on the complex issues of the EU referendum.

In fact, it is riddled with fiction – and the key fact, that it comes from Vote Leave, is virtually hidden.

The Electoral Commission’s rules say campaigners must include an “imprint” of the promoter’s name and address either on the front or back of campaign material. Vote Leave have chosen to do this in tiny print hidden among the Ts&Cs on the back of their folded leaflet.

The leaflet also urges readers to visit eureferendumfacts.com, a website which repeats almost the same information. Near the end of the page, there’s what sounds like comforting advice: “There are risks in voting either way. Experts, politicians, and businesses are divided. People have to weigh up the risks and potential benefits of each course of action for themselves.” It then provides links to both the Vote Leave website and the rival Stronger In campaign.

To find any sign that Vote Leave is responsible for this attempt to masquerade as a neutral purveyor of facts, readers have to click on the “privacy policy”, which is in small print right at the bottom left corner of the site.

Now look at some of the supposed facts.

“Fact” #1

“The EU has grown to take control over more and more areas which don’t have anything to do with trade – such as our borders.”

Because the UK isn’t in the Schengen Area, we have control of our borders. Muddling free movement of people with a lack of border control is one of the Leave camp’s favourite ploys.

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“Fact” #2

“The British public cannot vote out the politicians who make our laws.”

Presumably Vote Leave refer to the European Commission. Not only are the commissioners appointed by heads of government, including David Cameron; the European Parliament, directly elected by European citizens, has the power to dismiss them. The threat to do so forced the entire Commission to resign in 1999.

“Fact” #3

“The UK’s official EU budget is about £350 million a week… We get less than half of this money back.”

It’s not surprising that we get less than half £350 million a week back from the EU, given that we never send this much money there in the first place. The £350 million figure doesn’t take account of the rebate successfully negotiated by Margaret Thatcher. This never goes to Brussels.

InFacts contacted Vote Leave on these points but received no response.

Edited by Hugo Dixon

16 Responses to “Who is behind referendum “facts” flyer?”

  • This disingenuous flyer is obviously quite improper. But what are the organised opponents of Brexit – notably Stronger in Europe – doing to insist that Brexit misinformation is brought under control? Or that BBC presenters are better briefed to challenge the fibs (as Nick Clegg too politely called them recently)?

    Moreover, where is the loud clarion cry from Remainers, of whom I am stoutly one, striking out beyond the economic to make the optimistic, historical, cultural, moral and emotional case to remain in the EU?

  • The problems is the advantages on the economy of staying in the EU are taken for granted therefore not considered. It is like saying: “if you want to hide something from someone, you can hide it in front of his/her eyes”. Therefore all the guarantees given to the British people and businesses are so clearly visible that they are overlooked. Instead only the bad things are considered. Whereas the “hopes” given by the Outers may look enticing especially to who is already inclined to believe in those, in particular in the view of a relatively recent past in which really the UK could have lived in splendid isolation (when the UK had colonies and – above all – the world was a completely non-globalized one). The problem is that the Outers are selling to the British people a vision that on one hand does not exist anymore (the colonial empire is no longer), on the other still considers that world trade and businesses between countries are made by single countries (Canada for example is member of NAFTA) – unless those countries are the US, China and to some degree the developing India. This is the problem, because too many people think this is still the case (that is why, in my opinion the older generation now wants out. They have forgotten in what state was the UK before it joined the EU. They think their prosperity was achieved only and exclusively on their own, while the EU was trying to stop them – insted of rcognizing that in reality the EU guaranteed and supported the Uk in its achieving economic success). More dangerously the Outers are willing to throw the British people in many and many years of economic hardship because the non-UK economies and investors will be much less willing to put their investments in a country that – if Brexit occurs – must find its definite direction in the world (something that: 1- will requir many years, 2- will depend on what the other countries, EU and non-EU ones will want to trade and how much want to trade with the UK). And the Uk has perhaps the worst current account deficit in the EU and as BoE Governor said: “UK relies on the kindness of strangers”. Unfortunately the Outers are happy to put such kindness of strangers to the hardest test, by also using a harsh language and attitude towards those strangers (Boris Johnson said: “I am pro yhaving a cake and pro eating a cake” without considering how to first bake this cake! Other languages that sound of arrogance: “we are the 5th economic power therefore the world will bend to our will” – practically saying. But as the Port Talbot steel debacle shows with China, this is not the case and the UK has shot itself in the foot vetoing the EU protection tariff that would have saved the UK steel only, then the EU to get blamed yet again)

    • The Port Talbot steel debacle shows with India but is caused by China. So much for Indian inward direct investment. Tata has operations all over Europe but is shutting down in the UK. If we leave the EU such will be our fate and the conduct of both India and China in the steel industry tarnishes the Brexiteers’ much vaunted claims about how we could prosper by leaving the EU and dealing with BRIC ourselves.

  • Good article on Vote Leave NOT THE FACTS. I complained to the electoral commission who replied to say:
    “It is a legal requirement to have an imprint on all printed referendum material that is used during the referendum period to show who is responsible for its production. The imprint must include the name and address of the printer and the promoter. As the referendum period has not yet started, there is currently no legal requirement for material to include an imprint. We do recommend as good practice that campaigners use an imprint at all times, including on electronic material such as websites.”

    Even more sadly, this tactic by Vote Leave besmirches the respect that should be shown in the battle of ideas during an election campaign. I disagree with Gisela Stuart and Lord Lawson of Blaby about the EU but I have respected their political careers and their right to hold views different from my own. I am really disappointed that they want to have anything to do with Vote Leave after this.

    A laflet from Grassroots Out landed on my doormat at the same time. I did not agree with it but I had no objection as it openly purported to solicit support for BREXIT and GO>! to be the lead Brexiteer campaign.

  • The Vote Leave leaflet plays the usual trick of quoting inward migration from the EU (slightly over 250,000 in the most recent 12 months) without mentioning the numbers of UK citizens moving to the EU. Net inward migration from the EU was 172,000 in the latest 12 months, not 250,000.

    Plus of course they fail to mention that – like Norway – if the UK leaves the EU and wants to negotiate a free trade agreement with the EU, it will have to concede free movement for EU citizens.

    • They also state that more than half of net migration to the UK is from the EU, which is not, nor has been, the case.

  • I’ve heard this outfit is trying to raise awareness of their brick campaign. They’re trying to build a wall, a really high one; you know to keep the foreigners out! They’re going to need a LOT of bricks. Any help is appreciated; just send any spare bricks that you may have lying around to the freepost address on the flyer. Thanks!

  • I have nothing to do with VoteLeave – but even I can see that the rebuttals here are wrong – and the first one fails to address the biggest problem with the EU.

    Fact 1
    The EU HAS taken control of more areas nothing to do with trade – affecting the local hairdresser as much as Ford Motors.
    The “Borders” problem is visible to ordinary people in their every day lives – but not, it seems, to the commentariat.
    Uncontrolled immigration puts pressure on housing, health, schools and transport.
    The large number of law-abiding EU citizens cannot be reduced.

    Fact 2
    The British public can NOT vote out the foreign politicians that make our laws,.
    i.e. the Council of Ministers, made up of 27 Ministers of foreign governments, who decide our laws by majority vote.

    Fact 3
    The UK’s official budget IS £350 million per week.
    The Rebate reduces this to £300 million per week.
    The smaller Net figure preferred by Remainers ignores the fact that the amount “returned” is spent on EU directed projects. It is NOT controlled by UK elected politicians.

    • Well said Jules 🙂 I am so pleased that OUT has at least got their leaflet delivered, all you Innies or should I say ninnies live in a dream world, the EU is in dire straits now so out sooner the better! as soon as the expensive one from In comes through the letterbox I will take Roberts advice, simple, it will be posted straight back!! All comments from Remainers I have read so far on this and other forums seems to come from people with the mental incapacity to see what is happening now and what will be happening in the future with the so called United State of Europe! The news lately tells us of less housing, less school places, longer waiting time for any health appointment, no more room at the Inn etcetera, oh I know blame the older generation for living! The EU sets their rule and we blindly obey.

  • I don’t see nothing wrong with this leaflet, it’s a point of view, you either Agree or disagree .
    What is a disgrace is today’s news that taxpayers money will be used to fund vote stay,
    It’s Completley unfair,Cameron and co must be worried, the momentum of leave gathers pace , people are fed up and want back control

  • The bottom line is people are afraid of the change that is being forced on them.The majority of people in this country have welcomed immigration over the years.But when they see what is happening in Germany and Sweden,to name but two countries where the influx of immigrants is overwhelming they are frightened. Frightened of the increase in rape,assault and mugging.These immigrants don’t seem to want to integrate into the host country.They have an attitude of entitlement and their disdain for the country men they should be thanking is quite sickening.The strongest brexit factor for me is controlling our borders. If we stay in the eu, all and sundry will be entitled to enter our country.The likes of Turkey, Albania,Macedonia, Serbia.Frightened? Yes I am

  • Interesting that this leaflet is being criticised for having the imprint “in tiny print hidden among the Ts&Cs on the back of their folded leaflet”. It isn’t the most important message and so is in small print. Surely pretty standard practice.

    The recent tax payer funded propaganda sent by the government however, doesn’t show any imprint at all. I assume you will all be complaining to the electoral commission about that as well? Or do you believe that the in campaigners don’t need to play by the same rules?

  • In your leaflet “The Facts”. In the first item, you say, “The UK joined the European Union in 1973″. We had a erferendum to join the Common Market.
    At the time of this referendum, we haad no idea that this would become the European Union. Our goverenments of the times voted to join the various agreements that lead to the European Union. I think that it is misleading to
    say thet we joined the Union in 1973.

    Surely, the first line should read ” The UK voted to join the Common Market in 1973 and through various treaties became the European Union.