UKIP this week received €250,000 (£170,000) of taxpayers money to help it campaign against Britain's membership of the EU.
UKIP, which has ten MEPs, received the money from a fund for providing “information” to the public, which is given to all EU political groups.
UKIP, which has accused the EU of spending public funds to promote European integration, will use the money to begin a campaign for a referendum to quit the EU.
The "Let the people decide campaign" will start on Monday with a series of advertisements in national newspapers, and a website.
It is thought to be the first time that EU money has been used to push for withdrawal from the union
UKIP's grant was met with outrage from Labour MEPs,who branded it a a “disgraceful abuse of European taxpayers’ money.”
Gary Titley, the Labour leader in the European Parliament,said: “This fund was originally intended for the dissemination of information, rather than for political campaigning. I would seriously question whether this is an appropriate use of Parliamentary money.”
UKIPs leader in the European Parliament Nigel Farage hit back saying: “It is a perfectly valid use of the money — we are delighted with the irony of the situation. I did not hear complaints from Mr Titley when his own group spent their information budget interfering in the referendums in Ireland, Denmark, France, Holland and Malta. All we are doing is a little to redress the balance."
UKIP decided to campaign for a referendum after the government dropped plans for a poll on the European constitution after the French and Dutch no votes. They hope to collect two million signatures, in a petition as part of their campaign to push for British withdrawal from the EU.
Source: The Times, Sept 10th 2005