Tonight is the first round of the Clegg/Farage debate on Britain’s EU membership. It is perfectly possible that both of the leaders could benefit from it. They could emerge as champions of their causes and gain plaudits for having the courage to debate the issue.
But I suspect that this won’t happen. They both believe too passionately in their positions on Europe to play it safe, thought they might be cautious tonight knowing that there’s another debate coming in a week’s time. One other thing that has raised the stakes is the barrage against Farage. If Farage has a poor night tonight, there’ll be a lot of talk about how Ukip has lost the momentum that it had at the end of last year.
My instinct is that the format slightly favours Clegg. It allows him to cross-examine Farage and given that detail isn’t one of the Ukip leader’s strengths that could work to Clegg’s advantage.
Give something clever this Christmas – a year’s subscription to The Spectator for just £75. And we’ll give you a free bottle of champagne. Click here.