Friends of the Earth, The Wildlife Trusts, and Greenpeace are a few of Britain’s biggest environmental charities which have been accused of spending public donations on campaigns to stay in the European Union. According to reports, a charity watchdog will be issuing guidance on political neutrality after these three organisations made comments backing EU membership.
The Charity Commission has warned that getting involved in political battles can lead to “reputational risks” for such organisations.
The public support that they gave for the Remain campaign has outraged those who support the Brexit. According to the guidance, only under exceptional circumstances can the charities take part in political campaigns.
“Many charities are funded by the EU or its institutions, and conditions are usually attached to the funding,” the Express quoted the guidance. “For charities that are in direct receipt of such funding, the possibility of a loss of funding will clearly be an issue. However, knowing that the outcome of the referendum could result in a loss of funding would not in itself justify political activity directed at the UK remaining in the EU.”
The motives of the environmental charities campaigning to stay within the EU has been questioned by some of the Brexit backers because a number of such organisations benefit from the millions of pounds that come as funding by the EU.
“There are strict rules about charities engaging in political campaigning and organisations meant to be dedicated to good causes should not be seeking to circumvent them,” said Andrew Bridgen, a Conservative Party MP.
Gina Miller, a charity transparency campaigner and the founder of True and Fair Foundation, said that donors would be infuriated to learn that there money is being spent on political campaigns.
“I feel uncomfortable they are exerting undue pressure. There is a very fine line between a trustee doing this as an individual and someone using the standing of the organisation for political purposes,” the Telegraph quoted her as saying.