Nick Clegg and Nigel Farage to clash in head-to-head TV and radio debates

Lib Dem leader confirmed he will face his Ukip counterpart, with David Dimbleby booked to host one-off BBC programme

Nick Clegg and Nigel Farage are set to resume their ongoing political battle live on TV, after plans were confirmed for two head-to-head debates broadcast in the run-up to the European elections.

The Liberal Democrat and Ukip leaders will argue two polar opposite positions on BBC Two and the radio station LBC – the former in favour of staying in the EU and the latter campaigning for a move away.

Their rivalry has already started to get personal, with Mr Clegg set to give a speech today in which he is expected to accuse the eurosceptic MEP of pocketing his Brussels salary without bothering to turn up to vote.

Mr Farage has hit back by accusing the deputy Prime Minister of only taking part in less than a quarter of all Westminster votes – despite living in London.

The Lib Dem leader has been pushing for a very public debate between the pair over Europe for two weeks, and officially confirmed two dates today.

He said: “I challenged Nigel Farage to a debate because I wanted the British people to see that there is a very real choice at the upcoming European elections: between the Liberal Democrats as the party of 'In' and Ukip as the party of 'Out'.

“I am delighted that it has been confirmed that these debates will now definitely happen. I'm relishing the prospect of talking about how the Liberal Democrats are fighting to keep Britain in Europe to protect British jobs while Ukip want to yank us out and threaten our recovery.”

The fiercely pro-European Deputy Prime Minister challenged Mr Farage to a debate a fortnight ago, and the announcement of the arrangements came as Mr Clegg used a speech in London to ramp up his attack on the eurosceptic party's leader.

Mr Clegg said: “I challenged Nigel Farage to a debate because I wanted the British people to see that there is a very real choice at the upcoming European elections: between the Liberal Democrats as the party of 'In' and Ukip as the party of 'Out'.

“I am delighted that it has been confirmed that these debates will now definitely happen. I'm relishing the prospect of talking about how the Liberal Democrats are fighting to keep Britain in Europe to protect British jobs while Ukip want to yank us out and threaten our recovery.”

In a speech to the Centre for European Reform think-tank today, Mr Clegg is due to say: “Nigel Farage and deputy leader Paul Nuttall rarely turn up to vote in the European Parliament, despite being happy to take their taxpayer-funded salaries.

“Ukip MEPs refuse to roll up their sleeves and get down to work. Nigel Farage hasn't tabled a single amendment to EU legislation since July 2009.”

Mr Farage responded: “Nick Clegg has some cheek raising attendance and voting records. Although Nick Clegg himself though he lives in London, between 2010 and 2014 he has voted in Westminster only 22.6 per cent of the time.

“By contrast, I live eight hours away from Strasbourg, lead a national party and have voted 55 per cent of the time in the European Parliament.

“Furthermore, from 2005 to 2010 Nick Clegg's voting record in Westminster was only 42.5 per cent and for much of that period he was not leader of the Lib Dems. Can you please explain the criticism, Mr Clegg?”

Following negotiations between the parties and broadcasters, a radio debate will take place on LBC on 26 March, hosted by Nick Ferrari, and a televised debate on BBC Two on 2 April, hosted by David Dimbleby.

They come in the run-up to the 22 May elections to the European Parliament.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
people

Harry Potter actor suffered 'severe flu-like symptoms' on a flight from London to Orlando

Sport
Kim Sears is reported to have directed abuse at Berdych
tennis
News
news

Rap music mogul accused of running two men over in his truck

News
Gywneth Paltrow proposed that women seek out a special herbal steam-treatment service
news
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Toronto tops the charts across a range of indexes
news

World cities ranked in terms of safety, food security and 'liveability'

Voices
A mother and her child
voices
Arts and Entertainment
tv

First full-length look is finally here

Voices
The veterans Mark Hayward, Hugh Thompson and Sean Staines (back) with Grayson Perry (front left) and Evgeny Lebedev
charity appealMaverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
News
Tax now accounts for ‘nearly 80%’ of the price of a bottle of whisky
news

Arts and Entertainment
Peppa Pig wearing her golden boots
film

"Oink! Oink! Hee hee hee!" First interview with the big-screen star

Life and Style
tech

Biohacking group hopes technology will lead people to think about even more dystopian uses

Arts and Entertainment
film
Life and Style
life
Arts and Entertainment
Film director Martin Scorsese
film
News
news

The party's potential nominations read like a high school race for student body president

2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Regional Gas Installation Manager - South East England

£36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Regional Gas Installation Manager is r...

Recruitment Genius: Domestic Gas Service and Breakdown Engineer - South East

£29000 - £31000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Domestic Gas Service and Brea...

Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is a two form entry primary schoo...

Recruitment Genius: Engineering Manager - Alconbury

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for an Engineering M...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee