Could the Lib Dems really survival a tussle with Farage over Europe?

Britain and the EU is once again the major topic that is surrounding British politics. Both Nigel Farage and Nick Clegg have agreed to have a debate over the EU. Nick Clegg originally proposed the idea to Farage earlier this week and Fargae yesterday welcomed the suggestion.

If the debate goes ahead, it would certainly very interesting to see who would come out on top – Farage, a fierce critic of the EU or Clegg, a great supporter who at times as struggled to get his message across.  If we look at the recent success of UKIP it would seem that Farage would be the one with the most support.

Clegg however, has nothing to lose. He frequently speaks about the benefits of the EU and is now telling supporters to spread this message. He has made it very clear that the Liberal Democrats are in the ‘In’ party when it comes to Europe. Their recent party broadcast was based solely on the issue of Europe.

There is a fear, mainly by the Lib Dem party chairman Tim Farron, that the Lib Dems will suffer heavy losses in May. Looking at recent by-election results this would be no real surprise. So, it could be seen as a rather clever move by Clegg to have one last attempt to claw back support before the European election s. If he can win over voters who are still unsure about Briatin’s relationship with Europe, the damage in May might not be a serious.

For Farage, it is not enough. He wants Ed Miliabnd and David Cameron present at the debate. If this happened, we would essentially have a ‘dress rehearsal’ for the possible debates in 2015. Of course, we don’t know if there will be debates and we don’t know if Farage will be invited. However, it seems here that he is attempting to get the momentum going for these debates which he strongly believes he should be a part of.

Nevertheless, if the debates go ahead, Clegg could rescue the Lib Dems from decline. If he fails to win, then they have no chance of surviving.  It would be interesting to see how both Cameron and Miliband respond to this. Farage will no doubt continue to put pressure on them.  They will need to respond carefully, because if Farage is successful in the debate, it would have serious consequences for both Labour and Conservatives.

Ben Callaghan

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