EU Referendum

Nigel Farage challenges Nicola Sturgeon to EU debate

GE debate Image copyright PA wire
Image caption Ms Sturgeon and Mr Farage clashed in a televised debate prior to the general election in 2015

UKIP leader Nigel Farage has challenged Nicola Sturgeon to a head-to-head debate on the EU membership referendum.

Mr Farage said he would "love to have a debate about what the word independence really means" with the SNP leader.

Ms Sturgeon replied that she would "debate with anybody, any time" and would make a "positive case" for the UK's membership of the European Union.

The BBC has announced a series of EU referendum debates, including one in Glasgow in May.

Mr Farage, a leading figure in the campaign for the UK to leave the EU, told the BBC he would relish the opportunity to debate the issue with Ms Sturgeon.

He said: "I'd love to do it. I've been to Wales and done a head-to-head debate with the first minister Carwyn Jones. I'd love to have that debate about what the word 'independence' really means."

Asked if this was a challenge, he replied: "You bet your life it is."

Mr Farage has previously said that the issue at stake is "not about Scotland's relationship with Westminster," but about "whether Scotland wants to be part of an independent UK".

'Depressing, narrow case'

Nicola Sturgeon has pledged to "campaign very hard" for a Remain vote across the UK, despite also saying there would "almost certainly" be a second Scottish independence referendum should only Scotland vote to stay in the EU.

The SNP leader noted that she had debated with Mr Farage during the general election campaign in 2015, an encounter she believed she came off best in.

She said: "The last time I debated with Nigel Farage I'm not sure he came off that well. I'll debate with anybody, any time, about the big issues.

"I'll concentrate on making the positive case and leave Nigel Farage to the rather depressing, narrow case that he tends to make."

Ms Sturgeon has previously said that "Scotland benefits from being part of the EU, and the EU benefits from having Scotland a part of it".

The referendum on the UK's membership of the EU is being held on 23 June.

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