PM snubs Farage over TV debates
David Cameron has dismissed calls for Nigel Farage to be allowed to take part in the next general election leaders' debates with the put-down that only parties "that are going to form the government" should be included.
The Prime Minister, who is on hostile terms with the UK Independence Party (Ukip) leader, made clear he did not think the recent surge in support for the hardline eurosceptics qualified Mr Farage to be involved in the television debates.
Mr Cameron has repeatedly provoked Mr Farage's ire with his dismissive comments about Ukip, whose improved poll ratings and by-election performances have seen it frequently hold third place ahead of the Liberal Democrats.
But, asked about the prospect of Mr Farage taking part in the next leaders' debates, Mr Cameron told The House magazine: "Obviously, we have to decide on this nearer the time, but the TV debates should be about, you know, the parties that are going to form the government, in my view."
The Prime Minister, whose Conservative Party is electorally vulnerable to Ukip, which campaigns for British withdrawal from the EU, has previously described it as containing "fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists". Mr Cameron recently stirred Mr Farage's anger by refusing to retract the comment and saying there were "still some very odd people".
In the same interview, the Prime Minister confirmed that he was planning to introduce a new cohort of Conservative peers to the House of Lords before the summer. Campaigners and existing peers have called for a moratorium on the creation of new peers because the Lords is already overcrowded.
But Mr Cameron said he would be making "some further recommendations" because it was "important to keep refreshing the talent".
"I'm very conscious that this should be done in a reasonable and proper way... that you should have good candidates that will bring something to the House of Lords," he said. "I would say that if you look at the nominations for Conservative peerages over the last two-and-a-half years, I think we've got some very talented people."
Mr Farage said: "If Ukip's share of the opinion polls were to continue as they are now, to exclude us from the debates when the Lib Dems were included last time would make British politics look as outdated as the closed shop and embarrassingly out of touch.
"If he wants to restrict it to those parties who are likely to form the next government, he'd better not be booking studio time himself with confidence."