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Thursday, March 27, 2014

Who won the Cleggv Farage EU debate?

The much hyped debate between UKIP leader Nigel Farage and Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg has made the Westminister village buzz.

So who won? The headlines give it to Farage on the basis of the instant YouGov poll commissioned by the Sun which found that 57% believed Farage had “performed better overall” in the debate, 36% believed that Clegg had won (7% said they didn't know).

A decisive victory then? Well LBC's twitter 'worm' had Farage only just edging it, and there was a general consensus among the Westminster village punditry that Clegg had emerged as the winner.

However, the poll also found that after the debate 47% believed Britain should stay in the EU – down from 48% before – while 44% wanted to leave – up from 42% before the debate. This means that even a substantial number of those who want to stay in the EU believed Farage had performed better than Clegg which has to be a worry for the 'in at all costs camp'. Moreover, the poll also found that following the debate, the number of people who believed leaving would be “good for jobs in Britain” rose from 28% to 34%.

Finally, the big omission from the debate was any substantial discussion of EU reform which we've argued will be key to swinging public opinion in favour of staying in. Will the post debate polling lead Team Clegg to focus more heavily on this in Round II on the BBC next week? Let's hope so.

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