UK & World News
Farage Wins Europe Debate With Clegg: Poll
A clear majority of voters believe Nigel Farage beat Nick Clegg in a live debate over Europe.
According to a YouGov poll of 1,003 people, 57% thought that the UKIP leader performed best compared with 36% believing Mr Clegg was the victor.
The two men went head to head in an impassioned debate shown live on LBC and Sky News, just two months before crucial elections to the European Parliament.
The Europhile Deputy Prime Minister insisted Britain was "better off in Europe - richer, stronger, safer", but the leader of the Eurosceptic UK Independence Party told viewers that, if there were a referendum now on whether the UK should enter the EU, "you wouldn't join it".
In a bitter clash, Mr Clegg said UKIP's claims on immigration were "simply not true", while Mr Farage argued Britain's membership of the EU was costing jobs and driving down wages.
The hour-long debate was prompted after Mr Clegg laid down a challenge to Mr Farage to go head-to-head on Europe.
David Cameron and Ed Miliband refused to take part, leading to accusations they were worried about splits within their own parties on the issue.
Despite their shared backgrounds working as MEPs, the Lib Dem and UKIP leaders have clear - and diametrically opposed - views on Europe.
Many commentators believe both Mr Clegg and Mr Farage emerged as winners because they were given a chance to raise their profiles and appeal to their core supporters.
Deputy Prime Minister Mr Clegg warned leaving the European Union would have "massive consequences" for Britain "for generations to come".
He said that to "simply pull up the drawbridge" would be "devastating" for the UK and "destroy jobs for everyone in our country".
Mr Farage attacked his rival for not supporting a referendum on Britain's EU membership, saying the current situation was "not fair" on British workers.
However, the UKIP leader came under attack for a campaign leaflet which claimed 29 million Romanians and Bulgarians may come to the UK.
Mr Clegg argued: "There aren't even 29 million Romanians and Bulgarians living in Romania and Bulgaria. It is simply not true. So let's have this debate, but let's have it based on facts."
The DPM also said it was wrong to claim Britain's streets would be safer if the UK left the European Arrest Warrant and European Convention on Human Rights.
Mr Clegg said: "We are better off in Europe - richer, stronger, safer - and that's why I will fight to keep us in, for the sake of jobs, for the sake of our clout in the world, for the sake of Britain."
But Mr Farage replied: "This debate is between a tired status quo defending a crumbling EU that frankly isn't working any more, and a fresh approach that says let's be friendly with Europe, let's trade with Europe, but let's not be governed by their institutions."
The UKIP leader also accused the EU of having "blood on its hands" over Ukraine, after Mr Clegg had praised the bloc's influence in Eastern Europe.
Mr Clegg said: "It was the British governments that pioneered the enlargement of the European Union so we'd have more peace, more democracy and more rule of law in our European neck of the woods."
Mr Farage responded by saying "we can all hang our heads in shame".
"We've given a false series of hopes to a group of people in the west of Ukraine," he said.
"So geed up were they that they actually toppled their own elected leader. That provoked Mr Putin and I think the European Union frankly does have blood on its hands in the Ukraine and I don't want a European army, navy, air force or a European foreign policy."
The Lib Dems are committed to Britain's membership of the European Union, while UKIP's core policy is getting Britain out of Europe.
The clash at a central London hotel - live on LBC and Sky News - was chaired by LBC breakfast host Nick Ferrari and will be followed by a second next week on BBC2.
The debates are likely to be the highest-profile events of the political campaign for the European Parliament and UK council elections, which take place on May 22.
In the latest YouGov Poll for the General Election, the Conservatives are on 36%, Labour 37%, Lib Dems 9%, UKIP 11%.
However, UKIP is in the lead in most of the polls for the European Election.