Nigel Farage
Farage went head-to-head with Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg on LBC RadioLBC Radio

UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage has accepted the Deputy Prime Minister's challenge to have a public debate over Britain's membership of the European Union.

The agreement came after Nick Clegg warned that leaving the EU would mean millions of jobs in the UK would be lost and stressed that he was "very keen" to debate Farage on the issue.

The Ukip leader told LBC Radio that he was shocked when the Liberal Democrat leader called for the debate and said he "nearly choked on [his] bacon roll" when Clegg mooted the idea.

"This was the guy three years ago advocating an in-out referendum, who now says there shouldn't be a referendum but now wants a debate – so he's all over the place," Farage argued.

He added: "I've battled on for 20 years. I've been laughed at, ridiculed and attacked.

"But at no point in the 15 years that I've been an MEP have we ever had a full national debate about the merits or demerits of EU membership."

Farage explained he therefore had to say yes to Clegg's challenge, but with the "one small caveat" that Labour leader Ed Miliband and Conservative Party leader David Cameron join in.

Farage said he expected the other party leaders to decline his offer, but stressed he would debate Clegg head-to-head if Cameron and Miliband said no.

The news comes ahead of the European Parliament Elections in May.

Ukip are odds on favourites at evens to win the most votes cast at the poll booths, according to bookmaker William Hill.

In contrast, the Liberal Democrats have been given very slim odds of 200/1.