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Farage wins Round 2 with Clegg

SNAP polls have declared Nick Clegg the loser for the second week in a row in a head to head debate with Ukip leader Nigel Farage.

HEAD TO HEAD: Nick Clegg and Nigel Farage during last night's debate.
HEAD TO HEAD: Nick Clegg and Nigel Farage during last night's debate.

Opinion polls appeared to suggest the Deputy Prime Minister and LibDems' leader had come off even worse in his latest battle with the eurosceptic Mr Farage, whose party has consistently failed to get any MPs elected to Westminster.

An instant Guardian/ICM poll showed Mr Farage victorious - by a margin of 69% to 31%.

The thumping followed an hour of concerted effort by Mr Clegg to paint his opponent as a crank who probably believed the moon landings were a fake and Elvis was still alive.

Mr Clegg also ridiculed Mr Farage over his claim that hundreds of millions of EU residents could move to the UK. "It's the same as me saying five million people living in Scotland are all going to move to Orpington next Tuesday. It's not going to happen," he said.

He also compared the EU debate to the Scottish independence debate, saying more could be done together than apart.

And he appeared to play down the chances that David Cameron will achieve significant reform within the EU, saying he expected the organisation to look "very similar" in 10 years.

But things turned nastier as the two debated foreign policy. Mr Clegg attacked Mr Farage for treating the slaughter in Syria like a "pub discussion" after the Ukip leader said he admires Vladimir Putin. Mr Clegg quoted Mr Farage as saying, 'The way that he (Putin) played the whole Syria thing, brilliant'.

Mr Farage, who last week said the EU had "blood on its hands" over Ukraine, said he admired the Russian leader as an "operator not a human being".

He also criticised Mr Clegg for supporting intervention in Gaddafi's Libya, which he claimed had left the country worse off.

Mr Farage also appeared to strike a chord with the invited BBC audience when he said immigration had left the white working class as an "underclass".

And he insisted the UK "cannot plan anything" because it was impossible to tell how many people would move to the UK.

Amid the personal jibes Mr Clegg accused the Ukip leader of disliking modern Britain and pontificating from his "taxpayer funded Brussels job".

For his part, Mr Farage hit back, telling the Deputy Prime Minister, "Frankly, you don't believe in this country". He also accused him of "wilfully lying" to the British people about the extent that the UK has given up control over its laws to the EU.

Both teams had briefed that they would tackle the second debate differently. The LibDems let it be known voters would hear a more emotional appeal from Mr Clegg. They appeared to concede he had got too bogged down in the details first time around.

Mr Farage's team, by contrast, sent out a picture on Twitter of him sitting surrounded by advisers as they discussed debate tactics, in stark contrast to a week earlier when he had proudly declared his preparation involved a visit to the pub for a "whistle wetter".

Later, aides admitted he had had a drink but not a pint. Instead, he had indulged in a "glass of BBC mid range red wine".

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