08:55 GMT +314 December 2019
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    A students poses for a picture at the launch of the 'Brighter Future In' campaign bus at Exeter University in Exeter, Britain April 7, 2016.

    Election Watchdog Sets Out Spending Rules Amid Brexit Campaign Kick-Off

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    The UK's electoral watchdog has set out fresh campaigning guidelines for British businesses in the upcoming referendum on EU membership, with the official period kicking off on Friday.

    Following uncertainty from a number of British businesses about how they can influence the June 23 vote, the UK Electoral Commission released a fresh set of electoral instructions to help businesses adhere to electoral rules.

    Under UK electoral law, organizations and individuals are prevented from spending any more than US$14,260 (£10,000) on influencing the outcome during the official referendum campaign, unless they formally register as a campaigner.

    While the spending figure is not disputed, many banks and other businesses have sought legal advice to determine what constitutes an action that is ruled to intentionally bring "about a particular outcome in the referendum."

    Under the guidelines, released on Monday, the Electoral Commission stated that many "business as usual" activities that might influence the referendum will more than likely not be included in referendum spending limits, however companies were warned to assess their actions over the referendum period.

    "If these activities are taking place during the referendum period, you will need to decide whether your spending is intended to, or is otherwise in connection with, promoting or bringing about a particular outcome in the referendum," the guidelines states.

    Emphasis on Neutrality

    The Commission stated that research reports making a judgment on the referendum, or that don't contain an overall neutral tone, were likely to be included as referendum spending.

    Spending money on surveys that are used to promote one side of the debate will count towards the spending limit, while events where both arguments are represented are more than likely to be exempt from the £10,000 deadline.

    The rules come as both 'Remain' and 'Leave' campaigners prepare for an increase in debate in the coming months.

    Political figures on both sides have tried to sway the vote of businesses, with the economy to be one of the biggest factors influencing the way in which Britons vote in the landmark referendum.

    While pro-EU campaigners say a Brexit will have a devastating, destabilizing impact on the UK's economy, others argue that leaving the bloc will act in Britain's favor, as it will allow the country to negotiate trade deals that better suit the UK's national interests, free from the restrictions of being connected to a 28-state union.


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