Let's have (another) heated EU debate

So, who was the winner from the first big EU debates? Probably Faisal Islam, who ended up as the proxy for millions of voters, bemused and increasingly furious after months of conflicting and factually dubious claims from both sides.

The Gover, ladies and gentlemen. Secretary of State for Justice.. 

And the biggest revelation of both nights came from outside the studio - Boris Johnson's nickname for the Lord Chancellor.

Michael Gove had the advantage of watching David Cameron the previous evening -- and the additional advantage of not being Mr Cameron. 

The Prime Minister had faced an angry audience, unwilling to listen to much of what he had to say. That's as much about his 6 years in Downing Street, and 11 as Tory leader, as it was about attitudes to the European Union.  But it raises the question of whether it was a good idea for him to be front and centre in this campaign. No Remainer wants this to become a referendum on David Cameron.

No matter how irritating to voters, it's too late now to change either side's approach. The Remain side will try to terrify voters that a vote to leave will see your house price collapse, your job in danger, the sky fall in and quite possibly a global war.

The Leave camp instead promise the sunlit uplands of optimism, untold riches await if you just jump into this dark chasm. 

The Gover (as we must apparently now get used to calling him) had the better soundbites, and a more enthusiastic audience. But no real answer to any of the economic questions thrown up by Brexit beyond "it's got to be better than this".

There's no doubt the Leave campaign's £350-million figure is really harming them. Many people simply don't believe it, and if that claim is suspect then why would an undecided voter believe any other? 

But the Remain side's relentless pessimism is a risky strategy too. It looks like the Prime Minister is talking down the country he's led since 2010, that he doesn't believe we could make it on our own. 

It has undoubtedly been a deeply depressing campaign on both sides, light on fact and serious discussion, dominated by mindless claim and idiotic counter-claim. 

At the start, around 40% were determined to vote to leave, and a similar number equally determined we should stay. In the middle, around 20%, waiting to be convinced. 

If I was placing a bet, I'd still expect a Remain result by a reasonably healthy margin, but I suspect those undecided voters are still waiting.


If you're one of those undecided voters, what would help you to make your mind up? If you've a burning EU referendum question that remains unanswered, tweet it to @paulosbourne or send an e-mail, and we'll try to answer it in a future podcast.