|* Paul Waugh|
It’s the BBC’s big Wembley Arena EU debate tonight. And after days of having Nigel Farage dominate the media in the wake of Jo Cox’s death, the Vote Leave camp will be heartily relieved to see the UKIP man off the screens - and replaced instead by their own star, Boris Johnson.
There may be an X-factor feel to the event this evening, with a huge audience of 6,000 people (split a third Leave, a third Remain and a third undecideds) watching, cheering and jeering on.
Will Scots Tory leader Ruth Davidson emerge as the real star? It will be her first real national exposure (just like Nicola Sturgeon in the 2015 TV debates) - and boy does she not like Boris. Don’t forget that when Bojo blundered on Marr this year, she tweeted his "bumble-bluster, kitten smirk, tangent-bombast routine" wasn't cutting through.
The Telegraph reports that a pal of Davidson says “if Boris becomes leader, we’ll do a Murdo [a threat by Scots Tories to split from their English party]. We’ll have to break off.” In the Scottish Daily Mail, Davidson writes: “In the puffed-up protests of Mr Farage and Boris Johnson, in their complaints about Project Fear, and in the blithe assertions that ‘everything will be fine, don’t worry your little head, I recognise the brazen chauvinistic style of Mr Salmond”.
On Today, another Vote Leave star, Michael Gove, was as politely robust as ever, saying the reason no EU leader has backed Brexit is because ‘they follow the money’, and they are terrified at the prospect of losing the UK’s big bucks for Brussels. In his Sun interview, Cam slams Gove for his 'Trump-style politics'.
Will Boris tonight be asked again about his original flirtation with a ‘second referendum’, to get a better EU membership deal after a Brexit vote? Last night on Newsnight, Michael Howard said that he backed the idea of a ‘pause’ following a Brexit vote, a pause that would allow the EU to come up with a much better offer that could be put to another referendum. "If Europeans came forward with some other offer which looked credible I would be prepared to talk to them,” the former Tory leader said.
Nick Robinson asked a very direct question, would Gove have to quit on Friday after a Remain vote, given he thinks the UK in the EU can’t possibly meet its migration, economic or health pledges? “I will reflect and I will decide what is the best course for me” Gove replied. 'Vote Remain: Get Rid Of Michael Gove', you can see how that may work with some Labour voters.
Before the BBC debate, LBC Drive has more action later, at 4pm Michael Gove and then at 5pm Nigel Farage v Michael Heseltine for a 60 minute debate.
Oh, and David Beckham has come out for Remain. Gove countered that John Barnes was backing Leave. Yes, it’s reached that stage folks..