UK & World News

  • 2 April 2014, 17:37

Clegg And Farage In Second TV Europe Clash

EU foreign policy on Ukraine and Syria - and Vladimir Putin - are likely to dominate when Nick Clegg and Nigel Farage clash tonight in their second televised debate.

UKIP leader NigelFarage has said he is expecting Mr Clegg to "have a go" at him about the Russian president after blows traded earlier this week.

Mr Farage picked out the Russian president when asked who he most admired in an interview for GQ by the former Labour spin-doctor Alastair Campbell.

"As an operator, but not as a human being, I would say Putin," he said.

"The way he played the whole Syria thing. Brilliant. Not that I approve of him politically."

Mr Clegg hit back describing the comment as "utterly grotesque". He said Mr Putin had been the "chief sponsor and protector of one of the most brutal dictators on the face of the planet, President Assad".

But the Prime Minister will not even be watching the proceedings and, according to his official spokesman, will "catch the highlights as part of the news bulletins tonight."

He said: "The Deputy Prime Minister wanted to debate the approach to the EU with Mr Farage. Heis perfectly entitled to.

"The Prime Minister has set out his approach very clearly and he is interested in making the case for his own approach to the EU."

A UKIP source said it seemed the Lib Dems wanted to focus Wednesday's debate on the issue.

"We are ready for a row about foreign policy," he said. "We think most people agree with Nigel on this one. Clegg, Hague, Miliband, Cameron have been behaving like a bunch of sanctimonious students."

Mr Farage is likely to argue that the British public are fed up of being dragged into conflicts with no pressing national interest. He has accused UK leaders of "destabilising" countries such as Ukraine and Syria.

Meanwhile, the Lib Dems are keen to focus on the fact that the Conservative and Labour leaders have chosen not to take part in the debate.

The party has released a poster overnight that describes Mr Clegg as the only leader "standing up for British jobs" - and slams Ed Miliband and David Cameron as "missing in action".

Although the immediate polls following last week's debate suggested Mr Farage had won overall, both leaders saw a boost.

The Lib Dems want to use the debates to help them win pro-European votes off both the Conservatives and Labour.

A senior Lib Dem source said: "Although we are low in the polls, being able to move one or 2% of people might make a big difference to this. It is exposure and it is an important debate."

Advertisement