Given the upcoming national referendum on the UK’s continued membership of the European Union, an increasing number of journalists and others have been enquiring as to the stance that the TaxPayers’ Alliance will take on the matter.
We therefore thought it appropriate to set out our position for the avoidance of any doubt.
The TPA has never shied away from calling out politicians and bureaucrats at an EU level about how they spend – and mis-spend – taxpayers’ money. And we will continue to scrutinise wasteful spending and poor value emanating from the Brussels institutions, in the same way that we hold to account those pulling the purse-strings in Westminster, Whitehall, quangos, devolved bodies and local councils across the UK.
However, having taken soundings from supporters over a long period of time, it is clear that opinion is far from universal among you as to whether you think the country should vote to Leave or Remain. Such a spread of views is represented among our staff as well, so you will understand how unnecessarily divisive it would be for us corporately to take a position that would alienate some of you.
Moreover, the whole point of a referendum is that the power is put in the hands of individual Britons to make up their minds on the question based on the arguments put forward by the respective campaigns - rather than have groups like the TPA seek to dictate how they should vote.
Even more importantly, given that there are numerous groups out there dedicated to campaigning solely on the EU issue, for us to play a role in the referendum campaign would be to distract us from our over-arching aim of holding the Government to getting the nation living within its means again and pressuring ministers to deliver more spending transparency and lower, simpler taxes.
So we will not be playing a role campaigning for one side or the other in the referendum.
Where we would make a robust intervention, however, is if it emerged that politicians were trying to use our money to skew the debate over the coming months one way or the other. It is vital that there is a level playing field and that the Leave and Remain camps are left to make their respective cases with their own funds, without undue intervention from the taxpayer-oiled Whitehall or European Commission machines.