Tonight’s YouGov poll says that Nigel Farage won the debate with Nick Clegg by 57 per cent to 37 per cent. But, intriguingly, the plurality of those polled said that they’d vote to stay in the EU.
For Farage, the hope has to be that this victory gives him back some of the momentum that he lost when Romanian and Bulgarian immigration failed to become the problem that he had predicted it would be. He’ll also be happy with the fact that 70 per cent of Tory voters polled said that he’d won.
The Liberal Democrats will not be surprised to lose tonight. For them, the bonus is that Clegg polled 37%–far better than the single digits in which the Lib Dems have been receiving in European Election polls. This suggests that their strategy of presenting themselves as the anti-Ukip, the party of in could succeed in saving some of their MEPs.
I suspect that one of the stories that will run from tonight’s debate is Farage’s ill-coinsidered statement that the EU ‘has blood on its hands’ in the Ukraine crisis. Whatever the merits of his argument about the EU promising Ukraine more than it intended to deliver, it made him sound like someone who hates the European Union so much that he prefers Vladimir Putin to it.