A Citizen’s Advice Bureau in Anna Soubry’s constituency is running an EU-backed ‘Brexit advice service’ to spread pro-EU propaganda. Broxtowe CAB in Nottinghamshire is understood to have won a contract to run a service called Europe Direct for the whole of the East Midlands. The initiative, which is part-funded by the EU – and therefore by taxpayers -says its purpose is:
“To provide information about Brexit negotiations as they progress, information on EU citizens’ rights and engage with younger people especially focusing on their future relations with Europe, but also to answer general questions about the EU, its institutions and programmes. The project will provide information to the public by telephone, email and in person.”
British MEPs are concerned this is effectively the same as establishing an EU office in the town which could be used for partisan political purposes. UKIP MEP Jonathan Bullock said:
“One would like to think the CAB is a neutral organisation – historically the CAB existed to provide free legal advice to anyone who entered its premises… This looks more like an attempt to influence public opinion during the second phase of the negotiating process, than any desire to provide clear legal advice on the outcome of those talks. Nor is it the job of a British high street charity to ‘answer general questions about the EU, its institutions and programmes’. If the EU wants to open an office in every town it is free to do so. It should not be a cuckoo in the nest of a town centre charity in order to do so.”
The initiative already has a website and is building a social media presence. CAB were contacted for comment. Sure it’s just a coincidence they chose to base it there…
UPDATE: Citizens Advice makes clear the project is co-funded between the European Commission and Citizens Advice Broxtowe, who would be providing advice on EU-related issues even if this project was not in place, and all advice provided by Citizens Advice is – and always will be – impartial and free from political interference.