Last night Nick Clegg, British deputy prime minister and leader of the Liberal Democrats, and Nigel Farage, the leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) faced each other in the second and final scheduled debate on the U.K.’s membership in the European Union (E.U.).
According to polling, Farage was the clear winner of last night’s debate. Farage managed to present a case for British withdrawal from the E.U. by saying (among other things) that immigration helps the rich but hurts British natives and that the U.K. would be capable of making trade agreements with countries if it were not in the E.U. Farage also cast the status quo as unfair, emphasizing the undemocratic nature of the E.U. and the fact that the British people have not been offered a referendum on the U.K.'s relationship with Europe since 1975, when the British people voted to joined what was then called the European Economic Community.
Clegg, who was more forceful than he was in the first debate, made sure to highlight Farage’s controversial comments on Russian President Vladimir Putin and one piece of bizarre UKIP literature featuring a native American which features the words: “He used to ignore immigration...now he lives on a reservation.”
Clegg may be wondering why he agreed to these debates in the first place. Farage is the head of a party which has no seats in the House of Commons, has no hope of securing a majority in the next general election, and cannot force a British referendum on E.U. membership.
Farage will be particularly pleased by YouGov’s polling on the most recent debate:
It is clear that Farage gained ground most among the very people LEAST likely to support his party or his cause:
The proportion of Labour supporters saying Farage performed better rose from 42% after the first debate to 57% after the second
Among Liberal Democrats, Farage’s figures are: first debate 20%, second debate 33%
Among people who told us ahead of the debate that they supported British membership of the EU, his figures are: first debate 30%, second debate 45%
Some members of the Conservative Party, which contains some Euroskeptics, are worried that UKIP could take away votes in the next general election. However, Prime Minister David Cameron, the leader of the Conservative Party, could end UKIP tomorrow. All he would have to do is work to secure a referendum on E.U. membership to be held before the end of the current parliament.
Watch last night’s debate below:
Martin Durkin, a self described "wicked, middle-aged libertarian," spent six months with Farage and had the experience filmed. Watch below: