POLITICS

Farage Accuses Clegg Of Being 'Career Politician' And 'Hell-Bent' On Military Intervention During Debate

02/04/2014 20:03 BST | Updated 02/04/2014 20:59 BST
PA

Nigel Farage has accused Nick Clegg of being a "career politician" who is "absolutely hell-bent" on getting the British militarily involved in overseas conflicts, as the pair exchanged blows in the second live debate on Britain's membership of the European Union.

When Asked how Britain could face up to international challenges, such as Russia's annexation of Crimea, without being part of the EU, Farage said: "By not becoming a political union with an expansionist policy with an aim to militarise as quickly as they can, indeed Baroness Cathy Ashton, the British commissioner, is pushing very hard for a European airforce and for a series of drones.

"And, if you look at what's happened with the Ukraine we've had a message that's been sent out for 10 years, and this is not just the EU, David Cameron, Nick Clegg, and I'm afraid and Ed Miliband too, have all been saying to the Ukraine 'look, why don't you come and join the European Union? While you are at it, why don't you join Nato too?'.

"And this is something that has been seen by Putin to be a deeply provocative act. We have given false hope to those western Ukrainians. And did you see them with their EU flags and their banners? They actually toppled a democratically elected leader. Yes, I know Ukraine's corrupt, I know it wasn't perfect, but they toppled a leader and I do not want to be part of an emerging, expansionist EU foreign policy. I think it will be a danger to peace."

On Syria, Farage added: "These aren't simple black and white issues and just to assume that if you support the rebels you are supporting the good guys, frankly flies in the face of history and we should not be intervening."

Referring to a furore earlier this week when it emerged he had named Russian President Vladimir Putin as the world leader he most admired, the Ukip boss attempted to deny making the comments but was challenged by the claims by host David Dimbleby and conceded he had said it in relation to the premier as an "operator" over Syria.

He added: "I think if Putin had not pointed out that the use of Sarin gas had not necessarily come from the Assad regime, if he hadn't done that, I suspect the backbench rebels would not have defeated you Nick in stopping us from going to war. You wanted us to go to war again. I'm pleased that your backbenchers stopped you. Putin, I don't like the man but he contributed to that debate."

Clegg said the Ukip leader had treated the suffering of millions of Syrians at the hand of Bashar Assad's brutal regime like a game. He said: "This isn't some sort of pub bar discussion, this is a serious issue about how we stop the slaughter, the displacement of millions of people, women and children being sexually abused, terrible violence on an unimaginable scale and all Nigel Farage can say is that he (Putin) has played it brilliantly."

Farage added: "This country Nick has had enough of getting involved in dangerous foreign wars. "There is no evidence that our military intervention in these countries is making things better. With you as Deputy Prime Minister we bombed Libya and it is worse now than it was then."

The Lib Dem leader accused him of laying out a "dangerous fantasy". "The problem with people like Nigel Farage is they swing at windmills. They see conspiracies everywhere. I wouldn't be surprised if Nigel Farage soon tells us that the moon landing was a fake, that Barack Obama is not American, that Elvis is not dead."

Clegg said it was "silly" to suggest that 485 million people in Europe were about to come to Britain. It is as silly as me saying that five million people living in Scotland might all move to Orpington next Tuesday. It is not going to happen."

Farage Vs Clegg - Round 2