At-a-glance: Key bits of Clegg v Farage EU debate
- 3 April 2014
- From the section UK Politics
Nick Clegg and Nigel Farage have slugged it out in the second of two debates on Britain's future in Europe. Here's how they did.
UKIP leader Nigel Farage was the clear winner, according to two snap polls - and by a bigger margin than last week. YouGov's poll for The Sun gave the debate to Mr Farage by 68% to 27%, while an ICM poll for the Guardian suggested 69% of people watching thought the UKIP man came out on top. The BBC's chief political correspondent Norman Smith suggested Mr Clegg may have been trying too hard after criticism he lacked passion in last week's debate. In her analysis of the debate, the BBC's Eleanor Garnier said: "It did feel a little bit like they'd swapped the parts they'd played last time."
Social media reaction
Thousands of viewers joined in the debate on Twitter. There was a big spike in conversation around the official hashtag #EuropeDebate when it kicked off and there were an estimated 38,000 tweets in total for that term over the course of the hour. Other terms that were trending included #Europedebate, #bbcdebate and Clegg v Farage.
Two of the most tweeted moments were the exchanges on immigration and Mr Farage's closing speech - there was also a surge in chat when David Dimbleby called the UKIP leader "Nick Farage".
"Let me be the first to wish Nick Farage a happy 50th," said @jasonMcCrossan,
"Nick Farage" Good luck sleeping tonight with that image in your head," said @IainCollins.
There were 14,000 tweets mentioning @Nick_Clegg, Nick Clegg, Nigel Farage and @Nigel_Farage, according to analysts Topsy. Nigel Farage got 8,000 mentions to his Lib Dem rival's 6,000.
But there was some consolation for Mr Clegg from analysts Brandwatch and MHP public affairs who said he gained more positive mentions on social media than the UKIP leader.
What was the mood like?
Much more fiery than last week - the two men had obviously got the measure of each other and went on the attack almost from the off. Mr Clegg had a welter of jokes prepared, as he tried to paint the UKIP leader as a dangerous fantasist, living in a bygone age - and suggesting, not too subtly, that he was not a serious politician. Mr Farage did his best not to rise to the bait but also delivered a few "low blows" of his own, accusing the Lib Dem man of "wilfully lying" about the extent of Brussels' control of UK laws. He also threw a few curve balls - warning that the EU could end "unpleasantly" due to the rise of the far right, and saying the "white working class" had been turned into an "underclass" by "uncontrolled" EU immigration.
Nick Clegg: "If you do what Nigel Farage recommends and you isolate Britain, sort of Billy-No-Mates Britain - well it will be worse than that - it will be Billy-No-Jobs Britain, a Billy-No-Influence Britain."
Nick Clegg: "My passion is what I think is right for Britain in the modern world. I don't think turn the clock back to a world which doesn't exist anymore. I think we're always better when we work with other countries on issues. Climate change - I know Nigel Farage denies climate change exists - terrorism, crime, all the kind of things we can't deal with on our own in this modern world of ours."
Nigel Farage: "I want the EU to end but I want it to end democratically. If it doesn't end democratically I'm afraid it will end very unpleasantly."
Nigel Farage: "Let's free ourselves up and in doing so let's give an example to the rest of Europe. I know the people are behind this. I would urge people - come and join the people's army. Let's topple the establishment who got us into this mess."
Clash over Putin
The two men clashed on Nigel Farage's claim that Vladimir Putin was a "brilliant" political strategist and the UKIP man's attack on EU foreign policy. He said: "This country, Nick, has had enough of getting involved in dangerous foreign wars. There is no evidence that our military intervention in these countries is making things better. With you as deputy prime minister we bombed Libya and it is worse now than it was then." Mr Clegg said Mr Farage's views on Mr Putin were reminiscent of a "pub bar discussion" - and his claims the EU wanted its own army were a "dangerous fantasy that is simply not true".
The leaflet battles
They locked horns over a UKIP leaflet - featuring a picture of a Native American - which Mr Clegg said suggested that if the British people ignore immigration, they would "end up on a reservation". Mr Farage said he did not "recognise" the leaflet and did not "endorse its sentiments". The UKIP leader had his own leaflet to brandish later in the debate - one which featured Mr Clegg promising a referendum on the European Union.
And, once again, the men clashed over statistics - although not as much as they did in the LBC debate. The main flashpoint was the extent to which Britain's laws are made in Brussels. Mr Clegg claimed it was only about 7%. He also said the European Commission only employed the same amount of staff as Derbyshire County Council. Mr Farage told the Lib Dem leader: "When I said yes to these debates I thought you would honestly make the pro-EU case. "By saying 7% of our laws are made in Brussels, you are wilfully lying to the British people about the extent to which we have given control of our country and our democracy and I am really shocked and surprised you would do that."
Here are some graphs
A polished performance as you'd expect - the only real wobble came when, at one point, he called the UKIP leader "Nick Farage", but - old pro that he is - Dimbleby got through it. "I will get their Christian names right this time," the veteran BBC broadcaster - who hosted the last BBC TV debate on Europe 40 years ago - joked as he closed the show.
Mr Clegg was doing his best to exercise the audience's chuckle muscles, with mixed results. "Nigel is a conspiracy theorist... I wouldn't be surprised if he told us that Elvis isn't dead," he said near the start, to groans from the pundits gathered in the "spin room" next to the BBC's radio theatre. His joke that Mr Farage wanted to be "Crazy Horse or Sitting Bull" and that the UKIP leader was stuck "in the 19th Century" and would suggest "WG Grace opened the bat for England again" raised a few laughs.
What the pundits said
Sun political editor Tom Newton Dunn told BBC News Mr Clegg had tried to out-Farage Farage by making jokes, but "it did not work".
The Daily Mirror's Kevin Maguire wrote: "Verdict? Nick Clegg beat Nigel Farage in tonight's European debate. NC started stronger before NF rallied."
The Daily Mail's Andrew Pierce wrote: "Resounding victory for Farage with Clegg shouty and bad tempered as he realised he was drowning."
The Guardian's Nicholas Watt wrote: "The most nervous person after @nick_clegg loss in #NickvNigel? @David_Cameron who now knows he will need major EU reform to win referendum."
And The Times' Sam Coates wrote: "City of London and big business will look & worry about tonight's debate: showed how hard it is to win pro-EU arguments in populist forum."
How the two sides spun it
They both claimed their man had won, of course. Lib Dem minister Danny Alexander even managed to squeeze in a joke that may have been left on the cutting room floor during debate prep, describing the UKIP leader as "Nigel Mirage". "I think tonight Nick Clegg demonstrated the real passion he has for this argument," said the Treasury chief secretary. "The strong basis of his argument - and ours as Liberal Democrats - is that we will be stronger and more effective in the EU." UKIP deputy leader Paul Nuttall denied Mr Farage had delivered a "low blow" to his Lib Dem counterpart over the allegation he had lied to the public. "I think you can have as much passion as you want, but if you're wrong, you're wrong. Nick Clegg is wrong on this."
Fact checking - by Anthony Reuben and Emily Craig
Nigel Farage's claim that the EU makes 75% of UK law was based on UKIP's own calculations. The party used a 2005 German government study, which said the equivalent figure for Germany was 84% and revised the figure downwards in light of the fact Britain didn't join the single currency.
Nick Clegg said nine out of 10 new jobs have been going to British workers. These figures come from the Labour Force Survey, but they include migrants who subsequently became citizens. Indeed, one third of new jobs went to such people, although they make up only 13% of the population.
Nigel Farage said "they sell us more than we sell them". In 2013 the UK's exports to the EU totalled £154bn while we imported £218bn worth of goods.
Nigel Farage says that our membership of the EU costs £55m a day, which is £20bn a year. That's a gross figure, so it excludes the UK's rebate and payments made to UK farmers, for example. The Office for Budget Responsibility puts that gross figure at £45m a day. The Treasury puts the net figure, which takes account of things like the rebate, at £24m a day. The European Commission takes into account even more payments to the UK to give a net figure of £17m a day.
Nick Clegg said the European Commission employs fewer people than Derbyshire County Council. According to the council, it employs around 35,000 people - but that includes some 8,000 teachers. Meanwhile the European Commission employs just over 33,000 people (although that doesn't include staff working at the parliament or in the European Council).