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Farage Vs Clegg EU Debate - Seconds Out!

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Not since the 2010 Leaders' Debates has the Westminster Village so highly anticipated the broadcasting battle of two political middle-weights. The venue's booked, the studio's built and the contenders are ready.

Ladies and gentlemen, in the yellow corner, the undisputed champion of ham acting, LBC radio phone-ins and leader of the 'let's stay in' club, Lib Dem leader Mr Nick Clegg.

In the red, white and blue corner the bruiser from the boozer, Mr Ukip Union Flag himself Mr 'let's come out' Nigel Farage.

The clash at a central London hotel is already being billed by Lib Dem chief secretary to the treasury, Danny Alexander - and himself a future contender - as the rumble in the broadcasting jungle.

He's referring of course to the debate on Britain's European future. A golden gauntlet thrust dramatically down by the deputy PM on his radio show and grabbed before it even hit the carpeted studio floor by Mr Farage.

And so tonight (Wednesday) at 7pm the leaders of the Lib Dems and Ukip are hoping to make British broadcasting box office history as they slug it out on LBC radio - also screened on Sky News.

Ensuring a fair fight will be the indomitable Nick Ferrari. A former Fleet Street hack and now award winning LBC breakfast host, he's not one to suffer fools - though he may well turn a blind eye to the odd low blow.

In front of an invited audience, who unlike the 2010 Leaders' Debates will be allowed to cheer, jeer and sneer, Nick Clegg and Nigel Farage will have one hour, 60 golden minutes to make their case in the IN/OUT Hokey Cokey debate.

Policies will be central: Cleggie in his genial, geography school teacher way will run through his pre-exam tick list for anxious students. Staying IN is better for Britain. We're stronger united. The jobs market, the green issue, trade... and don't forget to check your ballot paper again if you have time at the end class.

Meanwhile, fag-ash, mine's a pint, Farage will remind waverers of the amount of money Europe wastes and the undeserved power it wields over us.

Plenty for the audience to digest there.

But as with the 2010 Cleggmania effect, it will no doubt be personalities not policies that have the biggest impact on some voters ahead of the European elections in May. Remember how leading up to the last election Mr Clegg was such an unknown as the leader of the Lib Dems that his battle bus was also emblazoned with the image of his better known party colleague Vince Cable. Then during the first Leaders' Debate in Manchester Mr Clegg turned to look down the camera lens, spoke directly to the audience and immediately his popularity was heading in One Direction.

Suddenly, Brown and Cameron were following over themselves to say 'I agree with Nick'. Those were the days.

Well, that's unlikely to happen tonight. Nigel Farage is on record as calling Mr Clegg a hypocrite. He's chomping at the bit for the chance to finally debate Britain's membership of the European Union, in his words 'the most important issue this country has faced for hundreds of years'.

Mr Farage says he's spent 20 years being laughed at, ridiculed and attacked. Now, unlike Marlon Brando in On the Waterfront he has his chance to be a contender after Ofcom ruled that Ukip is a major party in the May elections.

Labour and Conservatives have so far kept a sneery distance from bloodying their boxing gloves with Ukip claret, but don't for a moment be fooled that they are disinterested in the outcome. They'll definitely be watching from behind their fingers.

Meantime, ringside tonight will be Westminster and European political journalists. Pens poised they'll be keenly marking every round before announcing a winner shortly after 8pm.

Could it be a draw? Unlikely, and the bookmakers Ladbroke's already have Nick Clegg as a narrow favourite.

Tune in to LBC and Sky News tonight (Wednesday) at 7pm and decide for yourselves.

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