Ukip accuses European Commission of 'propaganda offensive' ahead of poll
Ukip has accused the European Commission of "preparing to launch a propaganda offensive" to keep Britain in the European Union.
The UK is due to vote on its membership of the EU before the end of 2017 and the president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, has confirmed the creation of a task force to deal with "strategic issues" related to the referendum.
The task force will also "oversee the commission's input into information activities".
Ukip believes this means Brussels will seek to influence the result of the vote, something the European Commission has fiercely denied, insisting it will "not be campaigning in the referendum and will not provide money for campaigning".
The news from Mr Juncker came in response to questions from Ukip MEP Patrick O'Flynn who believes the "referendum should be a matter for the British people alone".
Mr O'Flynn said: "I am grateful to President Juncker for being reasonably open about the commission preparing to launch a propaganda offensive designed to keep Britain in the EU.
"The British public will no doubt already be familiar with what the Commission considers 'information activities'.
"If Mr Juncker has in mind something similar to the material that is circulated to schools then I think propaganda would be a more accurate label."
He continued: "In my view the referendum should be a matter for the British people alone and European Union institutions would be well advised to keep out.
"However, if this attempt to skew the referendum battleground were to prove counter-productive it would come as no surprise.
"British voters do not like anything that smacks of interference with fair play."
Speaking in response to the accusations, a spokeswoman for the European Commission said: "The European Commission will not be campaigning in the referendum and will not provide money for campaigning.
"This applies to the UK task force as well.
"From the set up of the UK task force we have been clear about its mandate - it will be in charge of coordinating the work of the commission on all strategic issues related to the UK ahead of the referendum."