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The Great Intelligence Squared Brexit Debate

Nick Clegg, who has long supported further European integration, takes on Gisela Stuart, the Labour MP and chair of Vote Leave.

How do we decide? The in-out referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union on June 23 is a once-in-a-generation vote. For some of us it’s a matter of gut political instinct: we are natural inners or outers. But for many, coming to an informed decision on how to vote is a challenge, given the swirl of claims and counterclaims being made by pro-EU campaigners on one side, and Brexit supporters on the other. Every day there’s a fresh round of media stories, with ‘Project Fear’ warning us of the dire effect Brexit would have on everything, from jobs to farming and the NHS, followed by a slew of denials by the out campaign along with their own scare stories, such as the horrific crimes committed by EU citizens living in Britain under the freedom of movement right. Just give us the facts, people cry.

How would Brexit affect trade, for example? Is it true that Britain would be in limbo for ten years while our existing deals with other countries are renegotiated, or would we move swiftly to a new trading relationship with the outside world? And what about security? Does being part of the EU keep us safer, since it gives us access to other members’ databases on suspected terrorists? Or would Brexit lead to security gains, because Britain’s borders could be strengthened and extremists more easily deported?

In this major debate, to make the case for remaining in the EU we hosted former deputy prime minister Nick Clegg, who has long supported further European integration. Against him was Gisela Stuart, the Labour MP and chair of Vote Leave. No ‘little Englander’, she argued that Brexit is the progressive choice. But this was a debate with a difference. As well as our two main advocates, there were three special experts – who shared the findings of their research on the economy, law and immigration. In addition, there was a professional fact checker from Full Fact, an independent factchecking charity, who was on hand to resolve any disputed claim at the click of a button.



Jonathan Freedland

Guardian columnist, author and broadcaster

Guardian columnist and former foreign correspondent. He is the presenter of BBC Radio 4’s contemporary history series, The Long View, as well as two podcasts, Politics Weekly America for the Guardian and Unholy, alongside the Israeli journalist Yonit Levi. He is a past winner of an Orwell Prize for journalism. He is the author of twelve books, the latest being The Escape Artist: The Man Who Broke Out of Auschwitz to Warn the World.

Nick Clegg

Former leader of the Liberal Democrats

Leader of the Liberal Democrats for eight years from 2007, and deputy prime minister from 2010 to 2015. He was the Liberal Democrat MP for Sheffield Hallam from 2005 to 2017. His book, Politics: Between the Extremes, is part memoir and part call to arms on the need to reform our political institutions and restore belief in the values of liberalism.

Gisela Stuart

Labour MP who was born and raised in Germany

Labour MP who was born and raised in Germany. She is joint head of the Vote Leave campaign with Michael Gove.

Chris Bickerton

Lecturer in politics at Cambridge University

Lecturer in politics at Cambridge University and author of The European Union: A Citizen’s Guide.

Simon Bulmer

Professor of European Politics

Professor of European Politics at the University of Sheffield.

Damian Chalmers

Professor of European Union Law at LSE

Professor of European Union Law at LSE, and head of its Jean Monnet Centre.

Will Moy

Director of Full Fact

Director of Full Fact, the UK’s independent fact checking organisation.