UKIP’s Farage Accepts Clegg Challenge to Debate on EU

Nigel Farage, the leader of the anti-European Union U.K. Independence Party, accepted a challenge from Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg to a public debate over whether Britain should stay in the bloc.

“I’ve got to say yes,” Farage said on LBC radio today, responding to Clegg’s comments on the same station yesterday. “We need to have a national debate on what I think is the most important issue this country has faced for hundreds of years in terms of our constitution.”

UKIP’s anti-EU stance has helped it reach about 10 percent support in national polls and it’s placed second in six of 17 parliamentary by-elections since 2010. The party is targeting first place in May’s elections to the European Parliament.

Clegg, the leader of the Liberal Democrats in Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron’s coalition, said yesterday he’s “very happy and very keen” to make his party’s case for U.K. membership against UKIP’s campaign to withdraw from the 28-nation bloc.

Farage said he’d also like to debate with Cameron and opposition Labour Party leader Ed Miliband at the same time.

“I suspect that they don’t want to have the debate, so if it’s Nick Clegg and I head-to-head, then let’s have the debate,” the UKIP leader said.

A YouGov Plc poll last month gave UKIP 26 percent support in European Parliament voting intentions, six percentage points behind Labour and three behind Cameron’s Conservatives, with the Liberal Democrats on 9 percent.

To contact the reporter on this story: Eddie Buckle in London at ebuckle@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Hertling at jhertling@bloomberg.net

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