From the BBC:
UKIP leader Nigel Farage has accepted a challenge from Nick Clegg to have a public debate on the merits of the UK's membership of the EU.
"I can hardly wait," he told LBC radio, saying the deputy prime minister was "all over the place" on the issue.
The Lib Dem leader threw down the gauntlet to Mr Farage on Thursday, saying he was the right person to debate the issue of Europe with the UKIP leader.
At the debate itself, Nick Clegg will open by stating that half of UK exports go to other EU member states and then drawing the unsubstantiated conclusion that "three million UK jobs depend on EU membership".
Nigel Farage might mention that other member states have every interest in keeping free trade with the UK because following Clegg's logic, about four million jobs in other EU countries depend on exporting to the UK, but the likelihood is that he will respond with the entirely irrelevant fact that Norway and Switzerland export more to the EU per capita than the UK, entirely glossing over the fact that small countries always export (and import) more per capita than large ones.
Nick Clegg will then completely change the topic and say that the EU has guaranteed peace and freedom in Europe for sixty years. Instead of the UKIP leader pointing out that this would have happened anyway, the Western world being largely peaceful, the UKIP leader will go off on a tangent and say that we should be thanking NATO, an organisation which most people have forgotten still exists.
The Deputy Prime Minister is widely expected to extol other supposed benefits of EU membership, such as free movement of people, goods and services.
Mr Farage is again expected to miss the obvious point - that these could be negotiated anyway on a bilateral basis on terms to suit ourselves - and will instead trot out some populist, borderline xenophobic nonsense about "millions of immigrants from Roumania and Bulgaria" and point out that most voters thought that free movement of people and capital was a disadvantage of EU membership, not an advantage.
Having thus gained the upper hand with the last few people still paying attention, Mr Farage will then throw it all away by putting in a special plea for the UK financial sector and saying that EU capital and supervisory rules would "throttle Britain's banks", something which most sane people would be fully in favour of.
Similarly, Mr Clegg will lose what little sympathy he has managed to elicit for the integrationist cause by pointing out how many people from Middle England now own a holiday home in France or Italy and then going completely off piste by claiming that the EU is combatting global warming.
The debate is likely to continue in this fruitless tit-for-tat vein for until the last viewer or listener has switched over to another channel.
Neither politician is expected to mention the amount of money which the other has claimed in salary and expenses from the EU because neither wishes to remind voters about how well they have done for themselves out of politics.
Pundits expect that no more than half a dozen people will change their view on the EU one way or another and the majority will decide that the whole thing is a complete wank fest, although Farage hopes to strike a chord by closing his arguments with the completely baseless claim that "Britain is a small, overcrowded island".
Friday, 21 February 2014
From the BBC:
My latest blogpost: "Nigel Farage 'can hardly wait' to debate EU with Nick Clegg"Tweet this! Posted by Mark Wadsworth at 11:07