The debate tonight on LBC will be meaningless to some, but is actually of interest.
We know how Nick Clegg will approach this. He will put a huge economic emphasis on what is a political issue. He will cite statistics that have already been debunked several times over, such as the ‘50% of our trade is with the EU’ (it is actually 50% of our goods transit through the EU regardless of final destination) and ‘3 million jobs will be lost if we leave the EU’ (no entity has ever been able to quantify such a claim).
Clegg will bluster but much of he claims will not stand up to scrutiny. He will then appeal to the ‘we must work all together for better outcomes’ argument – but never once justifying why cooperation is insufficient and why nation states must give up political and judicial control to Brussels.
What remains to be seen is how Nigel Farage plays this.
If he chooses to argue the fatuous points Clegg will make – the ‘wrestling with the Chimney Sweep’ approach, then he will come off badly. If he keeps dragging the debate back onto the political ground where it belongs, he has a chance to make a positive impact on behalf of the anti-EU side.
Farage has to avoid playing into Clegg’s hands. Say what you will about Clegg, you don’t get to his position without having some smarts about you. Farage will be making a huge mistake to underestimate the Lib Dem leader.
Let’s see how this pans out…