United Kingdom

Nick Clegg and Nigel Farage To Debate UK's Membership of the EU


The European Parliament elections will be held this May, and there are some European politicians who are worried that some voters may turn to anti-E.U. or racist parties.

One of the most prominent of the euroskeptic parties is the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP). Nigel Farage, the leader of UKIP, is known for not speaking ambiguously and for his animated speeches in the European Parliament (a collection of highlights below).

Earlier this month British Deputy Prime Minister and Leader of the Liberal Democrats Nick Clegg challenged Farage to a debate on the U.K.'s membership of the E.U. Today it was reported that Farage has accepted and that the televised hour-long debate will be held on April 2.  

Credit: World Economic Forum/wikimedia

Clegg is a strong pro-E.U. advocate. He speaks five European languages, has Dutch and Russian ancestry, is married to a Spaniard, and served as a member of the European Parliament from 1999 to 2004.

The pro-E.U. Liberal Democrats are one of the two parties in the U.K.'s coalition government. Their coalition partners, the Conservative Party, has some euroskeptic members. Indeed, much of UKIP's support comes from disgruntled former Conservatives supporters, who are not happy about the Conservative's position on British membership of the E.U. British Prime Minister and Leader of the Conservative Party David Cameron has pledged to hold a referendum on the U.K.'s membership of the E.U. in 2017 if the Conservatives win the next general election.

What shouldn't be overlooked regarding this debate is what the British public think of Clegg, Farage, the Liberal Democrats, and UKIP.

Unfavorable opinion towards Clegg has skyrocketed since the last general election. A day after the 2010 general election only 19 percent of poll respondents of a YouGov poll said that Clegg was doing "badly." A year later that figure was 71 percent and the most recent figures from last month shows that 70 percent of respondents believe Clegg is doing "badly." Another collection of polling by YouGov shows that currently only 9 percent of respondents would vote for the Liberal Democrats, down from 18 percent in June 2010.

Credit: Euro Realist Newsletter/wikimedia

UKIP, which is currently polling slightly above the Liberal Democrats, has enjoyed some recently increased popularity but remains marred by embarrassing scandals, prompting the party to ask members who are interested in standing for office to declare that they have no "skeletons in the cupboard." Dan Hodges recently wrote a blog post for The Telegraph titled "UKIP is now a racist party" in which he outlines some of the unpleasant behavior on display at UKIP's recent spring conference.

After the announcement of the debate YouGov put together some polling information of Farage and Clegg. It doesn't look great for either of the men. I can't see how putting them in the same room for an hour to talk about the U.K.'s membership of the E.U. is going to change these perceptions very much.

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  1. Of course politically correct telegraph is going to call them “racist.” A liberal publication and a conservative party, what did you expect?

    “Poland did well. They took home bronze, silver, gold, lead, copper ? anything they could get their hands on.”

    “Team Somalia ? they did well, didn’t they? They had to apologise. Didn’t realise sailing and shooting were two different events.”

    Implying the Midlands was mostly populated by Asian people he said: “Any Midlands people here? Wonderful! My favourite accent is a Midlands accent.” The comedian then tried to do an Asian accent and branded the Islamic call to prayer a “traditional Midlands folk song”.

    This supposedly “proves” that they are “racist.”

    1. They are not only racist, they are also inconsiderate because they didn’t even give people a trigger warning.

  2. Nigel Farage, the leader of UKIP, is known for not speaking ambiguously

    Let’s not mince words: Farage knows his way around a podium.

    1. There’s no sugarcoating it – Mr. Farage can engage in some colorful speech.

      1. I can’t emphasize enough, he’s an estimable gentleman.

    2. In my quest to eschew obfuscation, I will say that Nigel is not unintentionally non-apathetic when delivering oratory.

  3. 1) Clegg is a strong pro-E.U. advocate. He speaks five European languages, has Dutch and Russian ancestry, is married to a Spaniard, and served as a member of the European Parliament from 1999 to 2004.

    OK, so he’s clearly a TERRRRUZZSSTZZzOMFGone!11!onetyoneone!1

    2) Whatever. It’s [Pretty Good] Britain. Who gives a fuck? They couldn’t even keep control of the piece of shit that became today’s USoffuckingA. Losers.

    The sun never sets on the remnants of the British Empire…..

    *wipes away tear*

  4. There’s a reason why Parliment refuses to risk a referendum on the EU. Sentiment is not in favor of handing things over to Brussels.

  5. Dan Hodges recently wrote a blog post for The Telegraph titled “UKIP is now a racist party”

    Why should I care what a self-described “former Labour Party and GMB trade union official” who “writes about Labour with tribal loyalty and without reservation” has to say about UKIP?

    “Paul Kaufman concerned that Rand Paul-dominated GOP is turning more racist”

    Uh, duh. In the case of UKIP, they are they only British party which bans BNP members from joining. Doesn’t sound very racist-friendly to me.

    1. You see UKIP isn’t open borders, ergo they are racist.

    2. Possible alternate interpretation: UKIP is at risk of being swarmed by BNPers because the party can offer a BNP-like agenda without the image problems.

  6. Quick question: is it possible to join the European Common Market without joining the EU?

    1. I believe so, such as Switzerland?

      1. I think Norway is also some sort of associate member, they are part of the common market but not part of the politics.

        1. Also keeps Norway from having to share their oil money.

          France: “What about that oil moo-ney? Give us some of that moo-ney. You greedy, corporate fat-cats.”

    2. Yes, EFTA. It still requires a high degree of coordination of regulations and free movement, which is why the Swiss referendum on immigrants was a big deal.

  7. How much of what passes in the British Parliament is already determined by rules passed in the EU/WTO/UN etc. I have heard some claim that its over 50%. So is the arguments of local British parties and politicians of any real importance?

    Have they already given up their independence and don’t even know it?

    1. What UN rules are determining Parliament’s laws? Not sure I follow.

      1. Minimum banana dimensions, labeling, materials, etc. The usual nanay regs.

        Not saying this is it. It’s just my guess.

        1. Ah never mind. Didn’t parse “UN” fast enough.

  8. you know who else is anti- EU?

    1. Me.

  9. The problem with the EU from the very beginning is that it was never about trade and economics. The people creating it wanted a European State and they used trade and economic arguments to create it. But the decisions are based on enlarging and increasing the power of the EU not on economics so they get the economics wrong.

    For example everyone knew that Greece should not be part of the EURO but they added them in to make it larger and more widespread to speed the process toward a Europeans State.

    The same with everyone should know that neither the EU or Ukraine are ready for any kind of merger yet they push it anyways.

  10. Farage is going to wipe the floor with him. He’s one of the best extemporaneous speakers I’ve ever seen.

  11. It benefits Clegg with persuadable but wayward members of his natural constituency (currently disillusioned by Coalition) to be seen battling for Europe against UKIP. It benefits Farage to be seen battling almost anybody about the EU, especially if he’s able to generate more pithy quotes and clips. It may convince nobody on Europe, but it could help improve the perception of the individuals within their respective constituencies, and maybe indirectly increase their leverage on the EU issue.

    Plus, true believers think they’re very convincing.

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