UKIP's Farage should not take part in TV election debates, says PM

David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Gordon Brown The 2010 general election TV debates were uncharted territory for the three contenders

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David Cameron has dismissed calls for UKIP leader Nigel Farage to be allowed to take part in the leaders' debates at the next general election, due in 2015.

The PM told The House magazine only parties "that are going to form the government" should be included.

Mr Farage once accused Mr Cameron of being "weak" and suggested he was not "grown up and sensible" enough.

But the PM has previously described the eurosceptic party as containing "loonies and closet racists".

Mr Cameron said in an interview: "Obviously, we have to decide on this nearer the time, but the TV debates should be about, you know, the parties that are going to form the government, in my view."

Some recent polls have placed UKIP, which wants the UK to leave the EU, in third place ahead of the Liberal Democrats.

'Scared'

Mr Farage said: "If UKIP's share of the opinion polls were to continue as they are now, to exclude us from the debates when the Lib Dems were included last time would make British politics look as outdated as the closed shop and embarrassingly out of touch.

"If he wants to restrict it to those parties who are likely to form the next government, he'd better not be booking studio time himself with confidence."

The first ever televised general election debates took place in 2010, with the format agreed between the Conservatives, Labour and Liberal Democrats.

The Liberal Democrats enjoyed a surge in popularity following the first debate.

In December last year Mr Cameron said that, while he enjoyed the debates, he felt they "took all the life" out of the 2010 campaign.

He suggested the three main parties "could learn from last time" and stage the 2015 debates "in a slightly different way".

Labour accused the PM of trying to "ditch the TV debates simply because he is too scared to defend his record".

A Lib Dem spokesman said the TV debates had helped to connect people to the democratic process and "realistically" they were likely to feature ahead of the next general election.

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