Farage the Great Divider
If you hear some strange noises around Westminster this evening, it’s likely to be the Vote Leave campaign spitting blood at the fact UKIP leader Nigel Farage is being put up as the Leave candidate in a live TV debate this evening alongside (but not at the same time as) the Prime Minister. Farage is a divider, and the official campaign Vote Leave have sought to soften their appearance so as to appeal to a wider audience, which they appear to have done quite well according to the polls. Farage and his grouping have largely been sidelined. The Britain Stronger in Europe bunch will have their pencils at the ready, to take down all of the outrageous comments Farage is expected to produce, and will be delighted at this opportunity to paint Leavers as extremists.
This debate matters as it is the first to be held on a TV station that is widely watched. David Cameron should have no difficulty in appearing statesmanlike alongside Farage, whose appeal is fairly narrowly focused. If anywhere, the PM is likely to receive the most punishment from the audience, who will relish their opportunity to lash out at Cameron even if he is almost certain to win the day this evening. For their part, Vote Leave will be thanking their lucky stars that the main event on the BBC next week will see them offered an opportunity for some damage limitation, though expect that to be dominated by the Remainers punishing them with Farage quotes from tonight.