David Cameron finalising plans to take on 'chicken' Farage in heated TV debate

Sources close to the Prime Minister suggest Cameron is preparing a series of live TV debates to take on his political rivals

David Cameron’s aides have drawn up plans to take on Nigel Farage in a live pre-election TV debate.

The Prime Minister plans to take on the Ukip leader in one of three leaders’ debates with his political rivals, according to The Sunday Times.

The proposals suggest that Mr Cameron would be willing to appear in television debates under the ‘2-3-5’ format.

He will take on Labour leader Ed Miliband in a one-on-one debate, with a second including Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg.

A third would include Mr Farage and the Green Party’s Natalie Bennett.

According to sources close to the Prime Minister, one of the debates would be held before the election campaign, with the other during it.

The Sunday Times quotes David Cameron as telling friends: “If you have Farage it makes no sense not to have the Greens as well. They have an MP.”

And on Sky News this morning, Grant Shapps, the Conservative party chairman, did not rule out the possibility of including Mr Farage in the debates.

He said that “all options are on the table”, praised the TV debates as a “good innovation” but said that negotiations would not happen until after the Scottish referendum in September.

It follows a turbulent week for Ukip, during which Mr Cameron branded Mr Farage “chicken” for ruling out running in the Newark by-election.

Labour leader Ed Miliband used an appearance on The Andrew Marr Show this morning to voice his support for the debates.

“It is up the broadcasters who they invite, whether they invite Nigel [Farage],” he said. “My main desire is that the debates go ahead, I think the Prime Minster doesn’t own these debates, the British people own these debates and he can’t wriggle out of them.”

Britain’s first debates between Mr Cameron, Gordon Brown and Nick Clegg were broadcast in 2010 after lengthy negotiations between the parties and the broadcasters.

Mr Cameron has complained that the strict rules on style of questioning “took all the life out” of the campaign.

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