Nick Clegg and Nigel Farage in heated BBC debate over EU


Nigel Farage and Nick Clegg make their opening statements

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Nick Clegg has accused Nigel Farage of peddling "dangerous fantasies" in an ill-tempered BBC TV debate on Britain's future in Europe.

Mr Farage accused the Lib Dem leader of "wilfully lying" to the British people about Brussels' grip on UK laws.

He also claimed EU immigration had hit the "white working class" the hardest.

Instant polls said Mr Farage had won by a bigger margin than he did in their first debate last week.

YouGov's snap poll gives the debate to Mr Farage by 68% to 27%, while a poll by ICM/Guardian suggested 69% of people watching thought the UKIP man came out on top.

A YouGov/Sun poll suggested Mr Farage won their first clash last Wednesday by 57% to 36%.

The BBC's chief political correspondent Norman Smith said Mr Clegg was much more fired up than he had been last week, while Mr Farage had been more measured.

'Billy no mates'

Mr Clegg kicked off the one-hour debate - hosted by David Dimbleby - by accusing his opponent of foisting a "dangerous con" on the public by arguing for Britain's exit from the EU, telling the audience in the BBC's radio theatre "if it sounds too good to be true, it is".

He warned leaving the EU would lead to a 'Billy-no-mates Britain".

An early flashpoint was Mr Farage's support for Vladimir Putin over Syria.

The UKIP leader accused the Lib Dem leader of being "hell bent" on getting Britain involved in a war - but Mr Clegg accused him of trivialising the issue.

Mr Clegg and Mr Farage both produced leaflets during the debate

Mr Clegg also said Mr Farage's views on Mr Putin were reminiscent of a "pub bar discussion" - and that the Russian leader could have brought the conflict in Syria to an end with "one phone call".

Poking fun at Mr Farage, the Lib Dem leader suggested the UKIP leader would claim next that "the moon landing never happened, Barack Obama is not American and Elvis is not dead".

Mr Farage said the British people had "had enough of getting involved in foreign wars".

'Making things up'

He said he did not want Britain to be part of an "expansionist" EU foreign policy, claiming that the EU wants its own "army and navy".

Mr Clegg said this was a "dangerous fantasy that is simply not true".

The pair traded verbal blows over the percentage of British laws made in Brussels, with Mr Clegg claiming it was only about 7%. He also said the European Commission only employed about the same number of people as Derbyshire County Council.

Mr Farage told the Lib Dem leader: "When I said yes to these debates I thought you would honestly make the pro-EU case.

"By saying 7% of our laws are made in Brussels, you are wilfully lying to the British people about the extent to which we have given control of our country and our democracy and I am really shocked and surprised you would do that."

Opinion poll result

Mr Clegg hit back, accusing the UKIP leader of "making things up to make a point".

The pair again clashed on EU immigration, with Mr Farage saying it was "good for the rich because it's cheaper nannies and cheaper chauffeurs and cheaper gardeners but it's bad news for ordinary Britons".

The UKIP leader said the scale of immigration over recent years had "shocked" the country and increased segregation in towns and cities.

But he said the worst social impact was that "it has left the white working class effectively as an underclass, and I think that is a disaster for our society".

The Lib Dem leader suggested that Mr Farage "does not like modern Britain" and that, in contrast, he was very comfortable with it.

'Crazy Horse'

Mr Clegg attempted to mock the UKIP leader as someone who was not a serious politician.

At one point, he brandished a UKIP leaflet - featuring a picture of a Native American - which he said suggests that if the British people ignore immigration, they will "end up on a reservation".

"What are you going to say next, that you are Crazy Horse or Sitting Bull?," he asked.

Mr Farage said he did not "recognise" the leaflet and did not "endorse its sentiments".

The Lib Dem later claimed the leaflet was distributed in Lancaster and Fleetwood ahead of the 2010 election but UKIP said it was not "official" party literature.

Towards the end of the debate, the UKIP leader issued a warning about the rise of far right parties in Europe, saying: "I want the EU to end but I want it to end democratically. If it doesn't end democratically I'm afraid it will end very unpleasantly."

He used his closing statement to make a pitch for votes in May's European elections, saying: "Let's free ourselves up and in doing so let's give an example to the rest of Europe.

"I know the people are behind this. I would urge people - come and join the people's army. Let's topple the establishment who got us into this mess."

Mr Clegg sketched out a vision of Britain's future in Europe entirely at odds with his Eurosceptic opponent in his closing remarks, promising "real remedies for the way the world is today not dangerous fantasies about a bygone world that no longer exists

"And that is why I'm going to do everything I can to make sure that we remain part of the European Union because that is how we protect the Britain we love."

Nigel Farage and Nick Clegg
David Dimbleby
Nigel Farage and Nick Clegg

Conservative leader David Cameron and Labour leader Ed Miliband declined to take part in the debate.

Tory defence minister Anna Soubry said Mr Clegg backed the status quo in Europe while Nigel Farage could not deliver the change the British public wanted.

In contrast, she said the Conservatives were "absolutely united in our desire to renegotiate with Europe and to have a referendum - and to trust the British people to make up their minds".

For Labour, shadow attorney general Emily Thornberry said voters were more concerned about "making ends meet" than the future of Europe and the party's focus was on securing a debate between Mr Cameron and Mr Miliband in the run-up to next year's general election.

The SNP said it believed in "positive engagement" with the EU and an independent Scotland would have "a seat at the top table in Europe".

Plaid Cymru said it wanted a "strong voice" for Wales at the heart of Brussels and it was concerned that Wales could be "pulled out of the EU against its own will and its own interests".


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  • rate this

    Comment number 2153.

    Farage's closing speech last night, where he talked about a 'People's Army' lmao, reminded me of another speech, given a generation ago by a similarly deluded party leader - David Steel's 'Prepare for government' speech. Many back then believed the hype, the rhetoric, and the bluster. The General Election though, as always, was a great leveler, as it will be in 2015.

  • rate this

    Comment number 2152.

    Who lost?
    - Milliband & Cameron.

  • rate this

    Comment number 2151.

    Farage puts up a good show, but I keep being told that it's official UKIP policy to dismantle the NHS for a US style insurance system and also dismantle the benefits system in the UK.
    IF that's true and not just propaganda then I would put him in the exact same category as the rest of the big parties out to kill off the average UK citizen.

  • rate this

    Comment number 2150.

    Open immigration means cheap labour its an economic fact. "the wealthy treat the working class people like a soiled pound note" a quote from a mod hero of mine.that was back in 1979/80. The establishment parties cannot answer the over supply of unskilled Labour question Milliband keeps going on about living standards but he backs open immigration Incoherent policy Labour must do better. .

  • rate this

    Comment number 2149.

    Messrs Milliband and Cameron are burying their heads in the sand and trying to pretend that UKIP and Nigel Farage are irrelevant but in reality I think they and the party machines are collectively quaking in their boots! ~ watch the continuous drip-feeds to the media of derogatory and sly mocking comments.
    Cleggy made an enormous political faux pas by giving Mr. Farage this amazing opportunity.

  • rate this

    Comment number 2148.

    Both very parochial, Farage in particular. What a misleader this man is

  • rate this

    Comment number 2147.

    2140. Jo Anton
    "Farage's pitch for the disaffected working class and unemployed vote is despicably dishonest"


    It is Jo, but it's a double act with the Tories. UKIP does all the prissy C-o-E unacceptable dirty work, playing the immigration card etc, telling bald lies that it's all the EU's fault, but the Tories offer the referendum.

    The hope is they'll vote UKIP in May and Tory in 2015.

  • rate this

    Comment number 2146.

    Nigel Farang's UKIP party is incorrectly named. His is exclusively an English party.
    Does anyone know what his political values are?
    Interesting that he admires that miserable gangster known as Putin.
    One would have imagined that Nigel is more likely to end up in the Tower rather than Parliament. He does get close to treason by having Vlad on his Xmas card list.

  • rate this

    Comment number 2145.

    The J Hoovers Witnesses
    gormless brown once said of a person (with views that didn't agree with his own) was a bigot.
    I'm neither a UKIP supporter or an EDL supporter(even though I agree with a lot of their opinions)but I don't think they all have tattoos and scary dogs that crap everywhere.
    Maybe it's because I'm not the bigot.
    You are.

  • rate this

    Comment number 2144.

    The March Hare @2111

    Words fine in good or ill we know
    In rhythm no guide, nor in rhyme.
    For equal partnership to grow
    Our care in reason rests, and time.

    beammeup @2118

    Not "ommmmmm"?

    Famous last words from inner peace, if too soon past caring?

  • rate this

    Comment number 2143.

    332. ace_molecatcher
    What you mean they own everything in uk while at the same time protect their own industries from take over because they are classed as strategic industries

    At the same time Labour gave their buddies at TATA , off shore out source IT contracts

  • rate this

    Comment number 2142.

    2137.THE MASTER
    The whole of Westminster government sickens me
    but you run off and support your pall clegg
    I didn't support Clegg. I described it as "shameful".
    But once again, given the chance you refuse to condemn UKIP members for expense/benefit fraud. Why not?

  • rate this

    Comment number 2141.

    332. ace_molecatcher
    If we leave the EU, we will lose our main trading partner. Yeah, like the French and the Germans will stop selling us their cars!

    No, they won't, but we won't be able to afford them.

  • rate this

    Comment number 2140.

    Farage's pitch for the disaffected working class and unemployed vote is despicably dishonest. He should know that our employment and low-pay problems have been with us for generations. He is trying to catch the vote of our most under-privileged and desperate people by blaming it all on the EU and immigration, when he knows that it is the big corporations and weak unions causing our problems.

  • rate this

    Comment number 2139.

    The BBC is quick to report the opinions of foreign politicians, to the delight of Cameron & Co.. What none of them seems to be interested in is the opinions of the British public, which is all that matters. When Nigel Farage criticises 'the establishment' he means LibDems, Labour, Conservatives, the BBC, the Civil Service & all the quangos & tame academics. They all get their say, we don't. Why??

  • rate this

    Comment number 2138.

    Apparently we should not generalise about the bongo bongo land unclean fridge sluts even though the swivel eyed loons regard them as closet racist fruitcakes.
    I'm not a fan of the EU but I'm far from convinced by the torrent of half truths and pure fables UKIP is peddling as reality.
    There are parallels here with the ,allegedly, grass roots Tea Party movement in the States.

  • rate this

    Comment number 2137.

    2127.Emperor Wibble

    What part of 2108 do you not understand?
    2108.THE MASTER
    I bring up Expenses full stop

    The whole of Westminster government sickens me

    how many others got away with it

    again they make me sick

    but you run off and support your pall clegg

  • rate this

    Comment number 2136.

    I guess it's frightening that, if we ever get to have a referendum, our country's future is going to be decided by voters whose idea of a strong, rational argument is 'Nick Clegg is a Muppet'.
    I've heard more coherent, joined-up thinking on nursery playgrounds.
    Please grow up.
    Abuse isn't edifying.

  • rate this

    Comment number 2135.

    2130. Wulf Sternhammers Happystick

    "Do you have a hammer and sickle tattoo on your head?"


    No tattoos at all.

    I'm sorry. Not all UKIP enthusiasts are as I described, as I hope I made clear.

    Some have an EDL tattoo as well.

  • rate this

    Comment number 2134.

    2133.Jo Anton
    I quite agree . Miillipede and cleggy are a danger to ENGLAND.

    Clegg your wrong , immigration would be far simpler to control if we left EU

    If we wanted no immigration there is nothing any country can do about it .

    The simplest and cheapest immigration controls is NO YOU CANT COME IN.


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    The problem facing the NHS is clear for all to see. Over the last 60 years the focus has shifted from curing illness, such as infectious diseases, to managing long-term illnesses, like dementia, for which there are no cures. That requires much more joined-up working in the community to keep people well, particularly supporting them in their own homes. To achieve that Labour is talking about "resetting" the NHS and creating joint budgets with England's councils, which are in charge of care services. It has echoes of what has already been done in Northern Ireland and is being rolled out in Scotland. But the challenge is that people pay for their care - many the whole bill. How that system can be combined with the free-at-the-point-of-need NHS is a major challenge.

    13:03: Breaking News The World at One BBC Radio 4

    From BBC assistant political editor Norman Smith: The former Labour health secretary Alan Milburn has criticised Labour's focus on the NHS as a "comfort zone campaign" and warned the party was ill-prepared to carry out the necessary reforms to the NHS if elected. Speaking on BBC Radio 4's The World at One he also warned that the party risked the same fate as in the 1992 election which Labour lost. You can listen to the programme by clicking on the Live Coverage tab on this page.

    12:59: Pensioner benefits Robin Brant Political Correspondent, BBC News, in Sale

    Pensioners have escaped much of the austerity measures under the coalition and David Cameron is hinting that will continue if he wins the election. Both the Liberal Democrats and Labour have said they will cut free bus passes or some winter fuel payments as the spending squeeze continues. Ed Miliband has also outlined plans for an NHS 10 year plan and thousands of new care workers to visit people in their homes. Highlighting what he said was a "creeping privatisation" of the NHS he attacked the large scale privatisation of the utility firms in the 1980s.

    12:54: Cider workers
    David Cameron and George Osborne

    It's been a busy week of campaigning so far - here's David Cameron and George Osborne at a cider farm in Somerset on Monday.

    12:38: Ashdown the voiceover Daily Politics
    Daily Politics

    Paddy Ashdown, who is offering his services as a voiceover artist, gets some tips from an expert, Alan Dedicoat, the voice of the National Lottery. It turns out Lord Ashdown did some voiceover work late last year after recording the audio version of his book. But he says he's not planning to do ads - "I'm not about to try and sell soap powder with my voice," he says. He then goes up against Alan - we're not experts but it was pretty clear who the professional was...

    12:31: Pic: Today's Daily Politics line-up
    Daily Politics

    The guest of the day is Lord Ashdown, After the discussion about the NHS reforms, he is now talking about the "snooper's charter" with Lord West, who was a security minister in the last Labour government. You can watch it live on this page until 1pm, and then catch up with at your leisure - just click the Live Coverage tab.

    12:25: Coalition NHS reforms "moved too fast" Daily Politics Live on BBC Two

    Former Lib Dem leader Lord Ashdown says the coalition NHS reforms "moved too fast". "We tried to be too radical," Lord Ashdown said, adding that reforms were made faster than was "sensible". His made his comments to presenter Jo Coburn during a discussion on the NHS with Labour's Shadow Health Minister Andrew Gwynne and Conservative MP Dr Sarah Wollaston.

    12:22: Cameron wants early TV debates BBC Radio 2
    The 2010 election

    On election debates, Mr Cameron talks up his desire for them to take place before the campaign starts in early April. While they were "excellent" in 2010, he says they "took the life" out of the campaign and, this time around, he wants them "out of the way" before the campaign starts in earnest. The current plans are for three debates during the official campaign....

    12:20: 'Intensely reasonable' on immigration BBC Radio 2

    The British public are "intensely reasonable" about the issue of immigration, Mr Cameron says. He does not regret setting a target before the last election of cutting net migration to less than 100,000 a year, as he believes this would make Britain "better and stronger". When presenter Jeremy Vine suggests that immigration and the NHS are not among the Conservatives' six main election themes, Mr Cameron says this is not the case and the broadcaster has been "badly briefed".

    12:14: Cameron welcomes GDP figures BBC Radio 2

    Reacting to the GDP figures, Mr Cameron says the economy is "moving ahead". While the "job is not done", the prime minister says the recovery is "on the right track".

    12:12: Miliband attacks privatisation Robin Brant Political Correspondent, BBC News, in Sale

    The Conservative health secretary is "disgusting" and Labour's years in power were "glorious" said one questioner; this was not a tough crowd. Ed Miliband spoke about "creeping privatisation" in the NHS as he outlined Labour's ten year plan to rescue, as he put it, a "precious" health service. Then he went further. He appeared to attack privatisation overall. He said legislation under the coalition made the model for NHS reform the privatisation of utilities in the 1980s; saying "we kind of know where that got us don't we?" He may have meant the electricity providers, firms that he has repeatedly attacked, but he wasn't specific. So he appeared to be condemning what's happened at British Airways, BT and a host of others firms. And for the record he told me he doesn't use private healthcare and has never used private healthcare.

    12:08: GDP figures over the years
    Chart showing UK GDP since 1990

    The BBC's economy tracker looks at GDP figures since the 1990s.

    12:07: Cameron on tax BBC Radio 2

    "You can't tax your way to wealth and success," the prime minister tells Jeremy Vine - claiming that this is something Labour "doesn't understand". He also repeats his pledge to make a reduction in the benefits cap "one of the first things" he would do if he wins the next election.

    12:05: Cameron Vine BBC Radio 2

    David Cameron has been clocking up the media appearances today. He is about to appear on the Jeremy Vine show on Radio 2.

    Tweet @BBC_HaveYourSay 11:57: Get involved

    @notayesmansecon tweets: As the UK's housing boom fades so does its economic growth #GDP #GBP #ukhousing

    11:45: Rich versus poor Robert Peston Business editor, BBC News

    tweets: And who has paid for the recovery, rich or poor, asks Robert Peston?

    @leicesterliz 11:37: Liz Kendall, Labour MP

    Labour MP Liz Kendall tweets: Social care workforce neglected and exploited for too long. Zero hours contracts, 15 min visits will never provide quality care #labnhsplan

    11:37: Osborne on economy BBC News Channel
    Chancellor George Osborne

    Chancellor George Osborne says the latest GDP figures show the recovery of the UK economy is "on track".

    11:31: Poll tracker

    While we are looking at trackers, how are the parties faring? Compare current ratings from a range of pollsters, and see how parties have performed since 2010 with our interactive poll tracker.

    Poll tracker
    Email Get involved

    Christine St Claire in UK, emails: A fifteen minute visit is just ludicrous. Of course visits need to be longer. How can anyone get the help they need in such a short time. Well done Ed Miliband, you will get my vote.

    11:24: Significant slowdown? Robert Peston Business editor, BBC News

    The BBC's economics editor Robert Peston asks: How significant is the slowdown in the British economy, given that the dominant service sector is still booming, but construction is shrinking and manufacturing almost back to flatlining?

    11:24: GDP figures
    Rolled up sterline notes

    Mr Balls was speaking after ONS figures showed the UK's economy grew by 2.6% last year, the fastest pace since 2007 and up from 1.7% in 2013 - although there was a slowdown in the final three months of 2014.

    Email Get involved

    Christine Anderson in UK, emails: Unless carers are paid a decent wage and travel money the proposals won't make any difference

    Tweet @BBC_HaveYourSay Get involved

    @carowilb tweets: 100 days until the general election. I'm intrigued to see what Cameron is going to come up with #NHS

    11:09: Ed Balls on living standards BBC News Channel
    Ed Balls

    Shadow chancellor Ed Balls also told the BBC News Channel living standards had been stagnant for too long. "When Conservatives say they have fixed the economy, most people say who for, not for me... if that's Tory success, just think of what failure would look like."

    11:00: Election pledges
    Ed Miliband David Cameron

    A quick recap - with 100 days to the election, Labour and the Conservative Party are setting out their stalls. Ed Miliband has given a speech on Labour's "10-year plan" for the NHS - which pledges new safety checks to identify people at risk of hospitalisation and recruiting 5,000 new home care - in Manchester. Meanwhile, David Cameron has been outlining plans to cut the benefits cap - from £26,000 to £23,000 - to pay for more apprenticeships.

    10:50: GDP figures
    Graph showing components of UK GDP

    This is from the BBC's Business Live team: It's worth noting a couple of things from today's GDP figures. The first is that the official estimate is below the forecast from the Office for Budget Responsibility at the time of the Autumn Statement that economic growth would be 3% in 2014. The second is that while, as the ONS says, there has been widespread growth across all major components of GDP since the start of 2013, the service industries remain the largest and steadiest contributor to economic growth. In fairness to the OBR, it did originally forecast GDP growth for 2014 of 2.7% back in March last year.

    10:49: Mental health

    Mr Miliband says there is still a stigma with mental health, and the nation has got to find a way to talk about it.

    @ChrisMasonBBC Chris Mason, BBC political correspondent

    tweets: Ed Miliband: "Because of his broken promises, what tuition fees are for Nick Clegg, the NHS has become for David Cameron."

    10:40: Dementia care

    Ed Miliband is now taking questions from the audience in Trafford, including on his plans for dementia care and the role of pharmacies in the NHS.

    10:39: Key principle

    A bit more on that speech by Ed Miliband - he said the "key principle" to making the NHS sustainable and successful is investment, so the NHS has "time to care".

    10:33: Trust

    David Cameron can't be trusted with our NHS, Mr Miliband suggests.

    10:32: 'Wrong values'

    The Labour leader says David Cameron puts the wrong values at the heart of the NHS and the future of the health service is at stake in the general election. "Let's go out and fight for it." he says.

    10:30: 'No time to care'

    Mr Miliband says people in their 70s and even 80s are currently waiting hours for ambulances to arrive, getting stuck outside hospital in ambulances because A&E is full, and lying on trolleys in corridors. It is an NHS "without enough time to care", he says.

    10:29: Two futures of NHS
    Ed Miliband Ed Miliband setting out his plans for the NHS

    The Labour leader says the country faces a choice of two futures - continuing with a Conservative plan, which has led to an "NHS in crisis" and "threatens the service as we know it". Or a Labour plan to "rescue" the NHS, invest in its future and join up services from home to hospital.

    10:25: NHS 'in peril'

    Ed Miliband says the "precious" institution faces its "most perilous moment in a generation".

    10:25: Ed Miliband on NHS

    Ed Miliband is now delivering a speech on the NHS in Trafford, Manchester.

    10:24: More on GDP BBC News Channel

    The ONS's chief economist, Joe Grice, tells the BBC News Channel it's "too early to say" if this slowdown will persist. "The dominant services sector remains buoyant while the contraction has taken place in industries like construction, mining and energy supply, which can be erratic," he says.

    10:23: GDP breakdown

    A breakdown of those GDP figures. The dominant services sector, which represents more than three quarters of output, grew by 0.8% - meaning services are now 7.9% ahead of their pre-downturn level at the start of 2008. Growth was dragged down by construction, which contracted by 1.8% - its worst slowdown since the second quarter of 2012.

    09:54: GDP figures

    But the 0.5% growth in the final three months of 2014 represents a slight slowdown from the previous three months, which saw 0.7% growth.

    09:51: GDP figures

    To put that 2.6% figure in context, that's the UK's best annual growth since 2007. In 2013, the economy grew by 1.7%.

    09:49: GDP figures

    Reacting to those GDP figures, Chancellor George Osborne says they confirm the recovery is "on track". "Our plan is protecting Britain from the economic storm, with the fastest growth of any major economy in 2014. But the international climate is getting worse, and with 100 days to go until the election now is not the time to abandon that plan and return Britain to economic chaos," he says.

    09:44: GDP figures

    BBC's business correspondent Ben Thompson says the ONS GDP figures are good news, but not as good as was expected. The services industry is doing quite well, but construction is dragging it down, he says.

    09:32: Breaking News

    ONS says UK economy grew by 0.5% during the fourth quarter of 2014 and by 2.6% over the year.

    09:27: Key dates

    The parties are ramping up their campaigns - and with 100 days until people go to the polls, the BBC's Jo Coburn highlights some key dates between now and then.

    09:14: TV debates

    Here's a bit more on who said what on the TV debates this morning - and whether a deal is any closer. The latest proposal from the broadcasters suggested a seven-way debate between the leaders of the Conservatives, Labour, the Liberal Democrats, UKIP, the Greens, the SNP and Plaid Cymru on the BBC and ITV.

    09:10: BBC analysis

    Get the expert analysis behind the election pledges. The BBC's Health Editor Hugh Pym blogs on Labour, the NHS and social care integration and the editor of the BBC's Political Research Unit David Cowling explains why this general election is impossible to call.

    09:00: Poll tracker

    So with 100 days to go, how are the parties faring? Compare current ratings from a range of pollsters, and see how parties have performed since 2010 with our interactive poll tracker.

    Poll tracker
    08:43: New nuggets Norman Smith BBC Assistant Political Editor

    Norman Smith says with 100 days to go until the election, the main parties are sticking to the themes they've stuck to for weeks - Labour on the NHS, and Tories on the economy. He says there are a couple of new nuggets from David Cameron though - a hint he's minded to continue protecting pensioner benefits such as bus passes and winter fuel allowances, and a view that Northern Ireland should be included in TV debates.



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