Nick Clegg and Nigel Farage trade blows on voting records as they warm up for two head-to-head later this month

 

Political Editor

Nick Clegg clashed with Nigel Farage today as they rehearsed their lines for two head-to-head debates before the European Parliament elections in May.

The Liberal Democrat and UK Independence Party leaders will do battle in a radio debate on LBC 97.3 on 26 March, hosted by Nick Ferrari, and a televised debate on BBC2 on 2 April, hosted by David Dimbleby.

Mr Clegg has adopted a high-risk strategy before the EU elections, declaring that the Lib Dems are the “party of IN” in a deliberate contrast with Ukip, which wants Britain to pull out. He hopes his boldness will contrast with what he calls Labour’s decision to sit on the fence and the Conservatives’ attempt to woo Ukip supporters by talking tough.

After the two broadcasters signed up to the two hour-long “Nick versus Nigel” debates yesterday, Mr Clegg predicted a “lively contest.” He added: "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 Lib Dems 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 today, Mr Clegg accused Ukip members of the European Parliament of letting Britain down by not bothering to turn up for key debates to press the case for EU reform.

He told the Centre for European Reform think-tank: “You would have thought that if your world view was based on the idea that it has been bad for Britain for us to be part of the EU, a party such as the Ukip would have used its berth in the European Parliament to find every possible opportunity to promote reforms that create British jobs, enhance British security and that enhance the British way of life in the EU. Yet the record shows almost precisely the reverse. Ukip leaders don't turn up to vote most of the time.”

Mr Clegg claimed Mr Farage had not tabled a single amendment to the flow of legislation passing through the European Parliament since July 2009. "They [Ukip] have not only let down the case for the reform of the EU, they have let down British interests within the heart of the EU," he said.

The Deputy Prime Minister warned that David Cameron’s strategy to renegotiate the terms of Britain's membership and stage an in/out referendum in 2017 was “doomed to failure.” He said  Mr Cameron would achieve only a "little tweak here, a little tweak there" and  would never satisfy hardline Tory Eurosceptics who wanted either to withdraw from the EU or something very close to it. He claimed the Tories’ view was “misguided, mistaken and cannot be delivered”.

Hitting back, Mr Farage said Mr Clegg had “some cheek” in raising attendance and voting records because between 2010 and 2014 he has voted only 22.6 per cent of the time at Westminster even though he lives in London. "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.” He said some  Ukip MEPs had a very high voting record, with Stuart Agnew on 91 per cent, Roger Helmer on 88 per cent and Derek Clark on 80 per cent.

News
Mickey Rourke celebrates his victory against opponent Elliot Seymour
people
News
Gordon and Tana Ramsay arrive at the High Court, London
newsTV chef gives evidence against his father-in-law in court case
News
Actor Burt Reynolds last year
people
News
people

Watch the spoof Thanksgiving segment filmed for Live!
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
News
The data shows that the number of “unlawfully” large infant classes has doubled in the last 12 months alone
i100Mike Stuchbery, a teacher in Great Yarmouth, said he received abuse
Arts and Entertainment
The starship in Star Wars: The Force Awakens
filmsThe first glimpse of JJ Abrams' new film has been released online
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of The Guest Cat – expect to see it everywhere
books
News
i100 Charity collates series of videos that show acts of kindness to animals
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

Opilio Recruitment: QA Automation Engineer

£30k - 38k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: An award-winning consume...

Opilio Recruitment: UX & Design Specialist

£40k - 45k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: A fantastic opportunity ...

Opilio Recruitment: Publishing Application Support Analyst

£30k - 35k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: We’re currently re...

Opilio Recruitment: Digital Marketing Manager

£35k - 45k per year + benefits: Opilio Recruitment: A fantastic opportunity ...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game