Britain’s second-of-three TV election debates saw lively clashes on world affairs, two weeks before the country’s poll.
The two main party leaders looked to attack potential kingmakers the Liberal Democrats, after Nick Clegg’s performance last week brought a surge in support.
The leader of the Conservative Party, David Cameron, accused his opponents of hypocrisy on Europe.
“People are fed up with British politicians standing here in Bristol saying ‘I’m going to stand up for us in Europe and we shouldn’t give away all these powers and we should fight for British interests’”, said the Conservative leader. “And then, over they go to Brussels, and they do exactly the opposite.”
But Nick Clegg had Tory policy in his sights. David Cameron has withdrawn his MEPs from the main centre-right group to form alliances with other right wing parties.
“How on earth does it help anyone in Bristol or anyone else in the country for that matter, to join together in the European Union with a bunch of nutters, anti-Semites, people who deny climate change exists, homophobes… that does not help Britain,“ replied the Liberal Democrat leader.
The exchange gave prime minister Gordon Brown the chance to rise above the fray.
“These two guys remind me of my two young boys squabbling at bath-time,” the Labour leader joked at his two rivals’ expense. “Squabbling about whether to have a referendum on the European Union. What we need is jobs, and growth and economic recovery.”
Brown accused Cameron of being anti-European; Clegg of being anti-American. The debate also saw clashes on nuclear weapons and climate change. Two polls conducted afterwards suggested that Gordon Brown, whose party has been in power for 13 years, had impressed more than last week, but still lagged behind.
Pre-election debate leaves no clear winner