Tonight at 7PM, the British public will finally be granted what they have wanted – and been consistently denied – for years: a debate on Britain’s continued membership of the European Union. This would be a great milestone to celebrate, were it not for the fact that the two most important protagonists in British politics – Prime Minister David Cameron and opposition leader Ed Miliband – are entirely absent from the festivities.
Nonetheless, the match-up between Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and UKIP leader Nigel Farage should be one to watch.
Tim Stanley at The Telegraph has the best preview of the debate, which is well worth a read:
We might wish that Ed and Dave were debating the EU, but at least someone is. It’s proof that the Europhiles realize they can no longer rely on public uninterest in what Brussels does to keep the status quo and proof that Euroscepticism has finally come of age.
So we shouldn’t expect a debate that changes the course of history, but we ought to welcome the fact that continued membership of the EU is up for discussion at all. I’m old enough to remember when the argument for leaving was the preserve of clinically insane Tory backbenchers, half a dozen pig farmers in Devon and Edward Fox. Times, they are a-changin’.
Indeed they are. For all the efforts of the pro-European apologists to cast any Eurosceptic thought as little-England lunacy bordering on outright racism, and all of the falsely apocalyptic suggestion that Britain’s trade with Europe is solely contingent on membership of the political superstate-like entity that the EU has become, the debate could not be suppressed any longer.
This blog will offer trademark semi-partisan analysis and commentary after the fact.