Nigel Farage has challenged Ed Miliband to “come and have a go” in a one-on-one TV debate between the two party leaders.
It comes as a response to the Labour leader’s rousing speech at the University of London today, in which he pledged to “take apart” Ukip, the Tories and the Lib Dems.
In an open letter addressed to Mr Miliband, Mr Farage said he was presenting him with the “opportunity” to do just that – in the form of a “live, televised, head-to-head debate before the start of the general election campaign”.
And the challenge was put even more bluntly on Twitter, where the Ukip leader linked to his own letter and wrote: “Come and have a go, Ed Miliband.”
Mr Miliband’s speech represented a passionate defence of his ability to lead the party – and, if he gets his way, the country.
“The Tories have no answers to the discontent people feel,” he told an audience of party activists and members of the media. “Ukip have wildly wrong answers to that discontent. And who knows what one can say about the Liberal Democrats? Friends, I say we can take this lot apart and it is time we did.”
The “take this lot apart” line is a direct quotation from Tony Blair’s farewell speech to Labour conference in 2006 – yet apparently Mr Farage has taken it to heart.
His letter reads: “I heard about your speech today in London. I must say I was quite surprised.
“A few months ago we sat on a couch together in front of television cameras and I suggested we debate, head to head. You more or less declined.
“Now I hear that you want to take me, Ukip, and all that we stand for ‘apart’. Well let me give you the opportunity.
“Let’s have a live, televised, head-to-head debate before the start of the general election campaign. I’m free any time after November 24th”.
Mr Farage will already debate with Mr Miliband, David Cameron and Nick Clegg as part of plans to hold three debates in the six weeks before polling day next year. Those plans have excluded the Green Party leadership – though more than 200,000 people have signed an online petition to change that.
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