Ding ding: Round two of Clegg v Farage

Take your corners for round two of the bout between the leaders presenting themselves as the champions of the case for staying IN and getting OUT of Europe.

Last week Nick Clegg and Nigel Farage seemed to dance around each other like boxers measuring up their opponent. Tonight they are likely to exchange more blows.

The Lib Dem leader has already seized on the UKIP leader's praise for Russia's President Putin as the politician he most admired "as an operator". This afternoon Nigel Farage went further praising Putin for his position on the conflict in Syria.

"I did admire what he'd done over Syria. We were about to go to war in Syria because poison gas, sarin gas, had been used and everyone in London, Washington and Brussels assumed they had been used by Assad - and Putin said: 'Hang on a second, don't be so sure.' It turns out it's more than likely the rebels who used the gas. If Putin hadn't intervened we would now be at war with Syria."

That suggestion that the Assad regime did not use chemical weapons is rejected by much of the international community even though United Nations inspectors did not identify who was responsible for the use of poison gas.

Mr Farage today repeated his insistence that he neither likes the Russian leader nor his politics but today's comment turns his views on President Putin into a question of international politics and not merely one of which "operator" he admires.