UKIP leader Nigel Farage is the man to take on the Prime Minister, David Cameron in a televised debate on the UK’s membership of the EU, a UKIP MEP has said.
Speaking to the BBC’s Andrew Neil during yesterday’s Sunday Politics show, Stephen Woolfe, a Member of the European Parliament representing the North West of England said that his leader was not a divisive figure and would be the best man to argue in favour of the UK renouncing its membership of the European Union.
Mr Woolfe said that Mr Farage would be just one figure in a team of people campaigning to persuade the British people to vote to leave the EU via a referendum due to take place by 2017. He suggested that the team would also include himself and would likely include Dr Liam Fox, a former Conservative defence secretary.
But pushing him on the subject of who should take a lead in the ‘Out’ campaign, Mr Neil asked:”Come the big TV debate, the final debate, it’ll probably be the Prime Minister arguing to stay in. Should Nigel Farage be the other person arguing to stay (sic) out?”
Mr Woolfe replied: “Oh absolutely.”
He also suggested that Mr Cameron would not want to debate Nigel Farage, saying: “he doesn’t want to do it, he tried to avoid it in the general election and he will be defeated on every single point.” He backed away from saying that Mr Farage should lead the Out campaign overall but reiterated that Farage would play a “significant role”.
His comments come amid fears that Mr Cameron may try to whitewash the results of a renegotiation over the terms of Britain’s EU membership, due to take place before the referendum question is put to the public.
Leading eurosceptics are concerned that Downing Street may present Britain as having achieved a “trading” or “executive” membership role within the union, which may be more palatable to a public that is tired of Brussels interference.
But leading Eurosceptic Bernard Jenkin has expressed cynicism over such a move, saying “The offer of a two-speed or two-tier EU is no concession at all. We would continue to be taken for a ride on the road to second-class membership in an EU that as a whole is proceeding with continued political integration.”
Dr Fox, also speaking on Daily Politics, suggested that some government ministers may resign if Mr Cameron insisted that his cabinet backed his renegotiation and campaigned to stay in the Union, saying he was “pretty sure” that some would.
Asked whether insisting on collective responsibility would divide the cabinet, he replied “I’m sure he could get it – I’m just not sure he would have the same Cabinet.”
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