POLITICS

Ukip Leader Nigel Farage Shouldn't Take Part In Leader Debates Slams David Cameron

29/09/2013 11:09 BST | Updated 29/11/2013 10:12 GMT
PA
Prime Minister David Cameron during a joint press conference with Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta at 10 Downing Street, in central London.

David Cameron has said Nigel Farage should not take part in the leader debates, stating they should only involve people who "have a prospect of becoming prime minister."

As the Conservative party conference in Manchester kicked off today, Mr Cameron sensationally laughed off any threat from the Ukip leader in an interview on the Andrew Marr show.

Mr Cameron's comments came as Mr Farage accused the Tory party of being "scared of him," claiming to have been removed from an event at the conference tomorrow.

Mr Farage has claimed that Ukip's recent boost in the polls means that he should be allowed to go up against the other three party leaders.

Today, asked if he believes Mr Farage should be allowed in the televised debates, Mr Cameron said: "I think the debates predominantly should be about people who have a prospect of becoming prime minister."

When Mr Marr queried whether the Tory leader believed Mr Farage was in with a shot of leading the country, he laughed: "I don't think so, no."

Earlier this month, Andy Coulson conceded that the Ukip leader had a "bit of a point" when he argued victory for his party in 2014's european elections would make excluding him impossible.

The prime minister's former top spinner said in order to see off the threat from Farage, or "Mr Mirage", the Conservatives should challenge him to a head-to-head debate before 2015.

Television broadcasters are reportedly close to agreeing a deal with the main political parties, ruling out Mr Farage as a participant, the Telegraph reported.

The broadcasters will tell Ukip that Mr Farage cannot take part because the party has no MPs in Parliament, it is understood.

Contrastingly, Ed Miliband has said he is more than happy to debate with the Ukip leader.

Earlier this week, Mr Miliband said: "I will debate [with] anybody. In the end that's a matter for the broadcasters.

He then accused Mr Cameron of "running scared" and "ducking and diving" out of the debates.

"What I'm worried about is that the prime minister doesn't want those debates and he is running scared from those debates," he said.

But this morning, the prime minister gave the strongest indication yet that he would be willing to take part, stating: "I want the debates to take place."

"I thought they were good in the last election," he revealed on the Andrew Marr Show.

But the Tory leader said he would want them to take place earlier.

"I thought they took up too much of the campaign [and] I think we could start them a bit earlier [in 2015]," he argued.

The prime minister has also rejected calls for a head-to-head fixture on devolution with Scottish leader Alex Salmond.

In a letter to Mr Salmond, the Prime Minister wrote that the issue is a matter for "Scots living in Scotland" and should not become a glorified general election.

Today he emphasised his earlier statement saying: "It's a debate between Scots.

"What it should be is Alistair Darling, leader of the No campaign, and Alex Salmond, leader of the Yes campaign.

"Let them debate - but [Salmond] wants to change the question. He's a canny guy but I saw that one coming."