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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