Press Release
For immediate publication
Wednesday 2nd September 2015


Alex Salmond has said today that the Prime Minister has lost control of the European referendum, following reports he is to climb down on the European referendum purdah restrictions- which would be the fourth UK government U-turn on the Euro poll. 

The SNP’s International Affairs and Europe spokesperson, Alex Salmond MSP MP said:

“David Cameron has lost control of the European referendum. He is no longer in control of events. Events and parliamentary arithmetic are controlling him.
“First Cameron backed down on collective Cabinet responsibility. Then he collapsed on timing in his attempt to hold it on the same day as the Scottish elections when facing parliamentary defeat in June. 
“Yesterday he got turned over by the Electoral Commission on the referendum question and today he has retreated on his attempt to rig the campaign by using Ministers and civil servants during what should be a strict purdah period.
“On purdah, the Government would have been defeated in the Commons on 16th June if Labour hadn’t sat on their hands. Now that the Government has caved in parliament should adopt a belt and braces approach with appropriate sanctions for breaches of the rules.
“In the Scottish referendum, Cameron agreed to a purdah period and then blatantly ignored it by producing last minute new initiatives such as “the Vow” and using the “referendum unit” in the Treasury to orchestrate a scaremongering campaign by pressuring banks and other companies.
"Both of these were blatant breaches of purdah. Understandably, MPs on both sides of the argument do not want to see a repeat in the Euro poll and, therefore, should back the SNP amendments that will introduce an enforcement mechanism against breaches of purdah covering both Ministers and civil servants. 
"I am a pro-European to my fingertips – more than David Cameron will ever be. However, the SNP believe in a fair ballot, and we will not allow the Prime Minister to engage in the same chicanery in the Europe poll as he did in the Scottish referendum of one year ago."


Notes for editors: 

“Significant changes to campaigning rules”

SNP amendment on purdah restrictions:
Alex Salmond
Stephen Gethins
Ms Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh
Patrick Grady
Stuart Blair Donaldson
Clause 10, page 5, line 28, at end insert—
“(1A) (a) Section 1 will come into effect after a resolution has been passed by both
Houses approving arrangements for a purdah period covering a period of
five weeks before the referendum date. 
(b) arrangements for a purdah period will include—
     (i) restrictions on material that can be published by the government,
     public bodies and the EU institutions; and
     (ii) measures to determine breaches of purdah and penalties for such
     a breach.”
Member’s explanatory statement
The referendum provision of the Bill could only come into effect after arrangements for purdah
had been approved by both Houses of Parliament.