“The Conservatives have spent tens of thousands of pounds buying wraparound adverts on local newspapers across the country, pushing deep into Labour-held constituencies with a tactic that shows both the ambition of their election campaign and the party’s ability to make the most of legal loopholes in campaign spending rules.
More than a dozen titles across the country owned by major newspaper publishing companies – including Johnston Press and Daily Mirror owner Trinity Mirror – carried the wraparound adverts on Wednesday and Thursday. The four-page adverts, which replace the newspapers’ own front pages, barely mention the word “Conservatives” and instead focus on Theresa May’s leadership and the promise of Brexit.
As long as the adverts in local papers do not reference the local candidate or local issues, they are considered to be exempt from strict local constituency spending budgets, which can be as low as £12,000 per candidate for the entire campaign. Instead the Conservatives are able to count the adverts as “national spending”, which comes under the party’s central campaign spending limit of around £19 million.