EU referendum ITV debate: Boris Johnson and Nicola Sturgeon to put their cases

The debaters on both sides of the argument going up against each other on ITV tonight

Oliver Wright
Political Editor
Thursday 09 June 2016 16:15 BST
Boris Johnson is the only male politician on the panel
Boris Johnson is the only male politician on the panel (Getty Images)

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Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas


So far this referendum campaign has been dominated by men: Men accusing other men of lying. Other men accusing men of distorting the facts. While men and women who make up the electorate scratch their head in bemusement.

But tonight’s ITV referendum debate promises to be different ‒ not least because of the six panellists five are women. So will our female politicians behave better? Will we get less bluster and more light? And how will Boris Johnson the only man on the panel behave?

EU referendum - key dates

Here we profile the debaters on both sides of the argument who will be going up against each other tonight.


Nicola Sturgeon

The Scottish First Minister and SNP leader will be heading up the debate for the Remain camp. During the General Election debates her performances were some of the most memorable and impressive. But she is a geographical marmite politician – adored north of the border but, as the election showed, treated with suspicion bordering on dislike in some parts of middle England. Some people also cynically suggest that the ideal result for Sturgeon would be a remain vote in Scotland but with the UK as a whole voting to leave – that would trigger another independence referendum.

Angela Eagle

Angela Eagle, Labour’s shadow First Secretary of State, surprised and delighted the party’s MPs when she deputised for Jeremy Corbyn at PMQs. Taking on George Osborne she was widely praised for getting the better of the Chancellor – mocking David Cameron’s renegotiation and even poking fun at her own leader. She is not to be underestimated.

Amber Rudd

The Energy Secretary is one of the Tories rising cabinet stars – and the pro-European cause runs through her family. Her brother Roland is one of the main bankrollers of the remain campaign. Rudd is a smart choice as the Tory on the pro-EU side of the debate as she is likely to appeal not just to Conservative voters but also the moderate left as well.


Boris Johnson

As the only male politician on the panel Johnson will have to tread carefully in this debate. His style of bombastic bluster could easily been seen as superficial – and he needs to be careful how he attacks Rudd, Sturgeon and Eagle. He is also not a ‘details’ politician and will need to have a convincing vision for how Britain could thrive outside the EU – and not just his standard brand of blaze optimism.

Andrea Leadsom

Amber Rudd’s deputy in the Department of Energy is a details politician as co-founder the Eurosceptic Tory group Fresh Start knows more about the intricacies of EU law and regulations than most. Her job will be to provide ballast to Johnson’s rhetoric. But she is on the right of the party and will need to ensure that her free market views don’t end up alienating viewers on the left.

Gisela Stuart

As one of the few Labour MPs supporting Vote Leave Gisela Stuart has had a high profile referendum campaign. Well respected in Westminster she is never-the-less a contrary and independent minded politician who has irritated her colleagues with her anti-European stance. Interestingly she was born and brought up in Germany and helped the former French President Giscard d'Estaing draw up what later effectively became the Lisbon Treaty.

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