Liberal Democrat EU election slogan
The Liberal Democrats are fighting a pro-EU campaignLiberal Democrats

There is something almost heroic about a politician with everything to lose in a crucial election campaign deliberately upping the ante.

Step forward Liberal Democrat deputy prime minister Nick Clegg who, facing possible wipeout in the European parliament elections on 22 May, has adopted an aggressive, unapologetic pro-EU stance when all about him are running in the opposite direction.

With opinion polls suggesting the Lib Dems are struggling to break into double digits nationally and others showing a majority in favour of withdrawal from the EU, Clegg has persistently refused to change tack.

Instead, he first launched an election campaign with the slogan that his was the only party of "In" the EU, then he challenged Ukip's Nigel Farage to a brace of face-to-face TV debates, which he went on to comprehensively lose, and just a week before polling day he further increased the stakes by suggesting anyone who didn't back membership of the Union was unpatriotic.

"It would be damaging to Britain and would therefore be an unpatriotic thing to do to say that joblessness, unemployment, which is one of the most immediate consequences of our withdrawal from the EU, is a price worth paying.

"I think that's deeply unpatriotic, and very unfair on the people who would lose jobs," he said just a week away from polling day.

He was undoubtedly aiming his barbs at Nigel Farage's flag-waving Ukip but the implication that anyone holding the same desire to withdraw from the EU is also unpatriotic seemed calculated to alienate more voters.

He appears not to care that the public could not disagree with him more. Indeed, he gives the impression of a man who, rather than having everything to lose, has nothing to lose. And that is closer to the truth, with one huge exception.

Nick Clegg and Nigel Farage Clash over EU
Clegg upped the ante with TV debates

Clegg knows that, thanks to past U turns on issues like tuition fees and his role in the coalition government, there is probably very little he can say or do to turn the current tide of opinion running against him.

The last time these elections were held in 2009, the party won13.7% of the votes and won 11 parliament seats of the 73 for the UK.

But things have changed dramatically for the Lib Dems since those pre-coalition days and he may be facing the loss of all the Brussels' parliament seats.

He has faced this head-on, declaring: "All the predictions are that we are going to get zilch. Of course I hope that we will do better than that."

Brutally honest or a carefully calculated bit of expectation management in the hope that holding on to even a single seat can then be portrayed as some sort of near victory? Probably a bit of both.

But there is still that one big thing Clegg could lose, and it is what explains his defiant pro-EU stand. It is the support of his party.

The voters as a whole might dislike, distrust and dismiss him but many in his own party still hold him in high regard.

And much of that solid party support comes from the fact that he is standing firm on policies towards Europe that are close to the membership's heart. If he attempted to trim or duck, he would find himself in a far less secure position within his own ranks.

He has declared he would not resign in the event of a disastrous result but he has to say that and, in any case, there is no real prospect he would be called upon to make that sacrifice if he has been seen to be standing by his principles.

So while the Liberal Democrats may indeed lose everything in the Euro elections, Clegg has calculated he has nothing personally to lose by sticking to his pro-European guns.