Nigel Farage has agreed to a head-to-head debate on Britain's membership of the European Union with Nick Clegg.
Speaking on LBC radio on Friday morning, the Ukip leader said he had "no choice" but to agree to the challenge issued by the deputy prime minister yesterday.
"I nearly choked on my bacon roll when I heard Nick Clegg say he wanted to have a debate," Farage said. "I've no choice, I've got to say yes, because we need to have a national debate."
Farage added: "The answer is yes. I can hardly wait."
The Ukip leader said he would like to see Ed Miliband and David Cameron also take part, but he acknowledged both men were highly unlikely to agree.
Farage also said he saw the EU debate with Clegg as a "stepping stone" to being allowed into the 2015 general election TV debates.
Yesterday Clegg said he was "keen to debate Nigel Farage directly" on the future of Britain's relationship with Europe. “He is the leader of the party of 'out', I am the leader of the party of 'in'. It’s time for a proper public debate so that the public can listen to the arguments and decide for themselves," he said.
On Thursday The Times reported that Tim Farron, the president of the Lib Dems, has warned that the party faces the "fight of our lives" in May's European Parliament elections.
Voicing fears that the party could lose all of its 12 MEPs, Farron said the Lib Dem's “very presence in the European Parliament could be at stake” in a submission to the party’s spring conference next month.
In a recent interview with The Huffington Post UK, Lib Dem MP Lorely Burt said Ukip was useful for her party as it had enabled the Lib Dems to "reinforce our identity as pro-European".
Burt, a parliamentary aide to chief secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander, said she did not think the party would lose all of its MEPs, but warned there was little chance it would gain any.
Farage has staked his future leadership of Ukip on the party performing well in May. The expectation around the party is such than anything less than first place will likely be seen as a disappointment. And Farage has admitted that if the party comes third he would likely be ousted as leader.