Election 2015

UKIP: School children 'brainwashed' with pro-EU propaganda

Patrick O'Flynn at UKIP press conference Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Mr O'Flynn called for a "free and fair" referendum on Britain's membership of the EU

Young people should not be allowed to vote in any future referendum on the EU because they are brainwashed in schools with pro-EU propaganda, UKIP has said.

It comes after reports the Lib Dems, if in coalition again, would only agree to a poll if 16 and 17-year-olds and UK-based EU residents could take part.

But UKIP economic spokesman Patrick O'Flynn said young people were more likely to be pro-European.

He accused the Lib Dems of trying to "gerrymander" the result of the vote.

Mr O'Flynn, who is also the party's campaign chief, called on David Cameron to "come clean" about the terms of a referendum, which he has promised to hold in 2017 if the Conservatives win in May.

And UKIP deputy chairwoman Suzanne Evans said the party would not be including an immigration target in its manifesto.

Immigration

UKIP

Main pledges

  • Points system used to select migrants with skills and attributes needed to work in the country
  • Immigration capped at 50,000 people a year for skilled workers
  • Five-year ban on immigration for unskilled workers
  • Five-year wait before migrants can claim benefits

'Colouring-in books'

Mr O'Flynn's comments come after reports that the Lib Dems, as part of any post-election coalition deal, would only give their support to a poll if they had a say on the wording of the question, the timing of the ballot, and who could take part.

They want to extend the referendum to 16 and 17-year-olds and EU citizens who live in the United Kingdom, according to the Financial Times.

But at a press conference in London on Wednesday, UKIP party spokeswoman Suzanne Evans said school children had been exposed to pro-EU propaganda and should not take part.

Image caption Ms Evans said pupils are being given pro-EU colouring-in books

"It's everything there from colouring-in books on the Common Agricultural Policy for primary school children right up to research projects at university level.

"The amount of money that the EU is putting into this propaganda and throughout the entire education system is enormous," she said.

'Emotive term'

Mr O'Flynn added: "Let's be frank about it, opinion research shows that 16 and 17-year-olds are much more likely to be in support of Britain's membership of the European Union than is the population in general.

"And the electoral franchise does not allow 16 and 17-year-olds to vote and it's no wonder the Liberal Democrats wish to make this change but it's a gerrymandering change which is clearly intended to skew the result."

He also said there was a "vested interest potentially" in how EU citizens living in the UK would vote, if they were allowed to participate.

Image copyright David Cheskin
Image caption Voting rights were extended to 16 and 17-year-old in the 2014 Scottish independence referendum

Asked if he thought school children were being brainwashed, Mr O'Flynn said: "It is an emotive term but I wouldn't demur from the description of brainwashing."

He called for a "fair" referendum which sticks to the current voting rules for UK general elections.

Commenting on the letter by 100 business leaders publicly backing another Conservative-led government, Mr O'Flynn said it was "no surprise" big business wanted to maintain the "status quo".

Immigration targets?

He said he accepted big business was unlikely to support UKIP because of its stance on the EU, but insisted the party had the support of small businesses.

Ms Evans indicated that UKIP would set out further details of its plans to cut business rates in its general election manifesto.

She also told the gathered media that the manifesto would not include a target number for UK immigration, saying too many politicians had talked about numbers and targets that could not be met.

The party previously had to deny a U-turn on a target after its spokesman Steven Woolfe said immigration would be capped at 50,000 per year.

On Tuesday, party leader Nigel Farage said he would like immigration to return to "normal" levels, which he said was about 30,000 a year.

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