Ukip set to land £1.5m of EU cash despite internal concerns

Guy Bentley
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Ukip could be in line for EU funding (Source: Getty)

Ukip is on course to land £1.5m in EU funds thanks to the party's ability to establish pan-European group, BBC's Newsnight has learned.

Ukip is the biggest player in the Alliance for Direct Democracy in Europe (ADDE) group accounting for 21 of the 27 members. It is routine for the EU to allocate resources to such groups.

The ADDE may be entitled to receive £1m in 2015, but a group called the Initiative for Direct Democracy that will get £580,000 will also support the ADDE.

However, some members of Nigel Farage's party have voiced concerns that it's wrong for Ukip to take money from Brussels given its commitment to EU withdrawal. Ukip MEP Roger Helmer defended the decision. Helmer said the move was "liberating money" that would've gone to Europhile parties.

Speaking to Newsnight, Helmer said:

If we don't take the money, it will not go back to the member state of the taxpayer. It will simply go to those other foundations committed to further European integration.

He added:

So the question for any Ukip supporter who has a reasonable issue here is - would you rather this money, which is British taxpayers' money, would you rather this money was given to one of the German or other foundations which promote further European integration, or would you rather some of the money goes to us to oppose European integration?

Opponents of the funding said Ukip had held an internal referendum three years ago and refused to accept the money. The approval of the application could come as soon as this week.

Ukip MEP Gerard Batton had little time for the arguments advanced by Helmer for taking the EU shilling:

I'm not interested in being part of a European political party. The members of Ukip weren't asked. There's been no consultation.

The money is doled out to groups that "respect the principles on which the European Union is founded".

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