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Ukip MEP defends Farage HIV comments

Nigel Farage's comments on HIV patients have been defended by a Ukip MEP.

Nigel Farage during last night's televised debate. Credit: ITV

The Ukip leader prompted controversy while discussing so-called "health tourism", claiming that 60% of people diagnosed with HIV on the NHS were not British nationals.

The statement prompted criticism from other leaders, including Plaid Cymru's Leanne Wood, who told Farage he "should be ashamed" of himself.

However, Steven Woolfe, MEP for the north-west, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "Nigel is not saying that those people should not be treated now."

He said Farage was making the point that the NHS should not be "an international health service", and argued Barack Obama was not criticised despite the United States having provisions in place to stop foreign people accessing healthcare for free.

It is a question of whether we should be having an insurance policy for those people who are travellers, visitors, coming here as students, as happens in over a hundred countries across the world, including places like the United States or Canada.

– Steven Woolfe MEP

ITV leaders' debate watched by 7 million people

The leaders faced off for two hours last night.

Last night's seven-way leaders' debate was watched by an average seven million people, ratings figures show.

The two-hour ITV broadcast was the highest-rating programme on television last night, according to the data - with a peak audience of 7.35 million.

The debate also attracted more than 1.5 million tweets, making it the second most-tweeted-about TV programme of the year so far behind the Brit Awards.

Access to the debate was unrestricted, with 226,000 long form views of the live stream on the ITV Player and ITV News YouTube channel alone.


Guardian/ICM poll: Miliband wins TV Leaders' Debate

A snap Guardian/ICM poll conducted after last night's televised seven-way Leader's Debate put Labour's Ed Miliband marginally ahead.

Guardian/ICM poll: Miliband wins TV Leaders' Debate. Credit: PA

A report in the Guardian put Miliband winning the debate over Cameron – by 25% to 24%. Ukip leader Nigel Farage was third on 19%, the Scottish National party leader Nicola Sturgeon was fourth on 17%, with Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg trailing in fifth place on 9%, ahead of Natalie Bennett for the Greens on 3% and Plaid Cymru’s Leanne Wood on 2%.

SNP's Nicola Sturgeon debate 'winner' via Twitter

Figures from Twitter saw the SNP's Nicola Sturgeon was being hailed as the winner in the social media battle during the leaders' TV debates tonight.

The Scottish politician trumped both Labour's Ed Miliband and the Liberal Democrats' Nick Clegg in terms of total tweets mentioning the leader during the broadcast, despite her party standing for seats in only one country in the Union.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon leaves the ITV Studios at MediaCityUK in Salford Quays.

Figures from show she was mentioned more than 113,000 times during the live programme, versus 104,000 for Mr Miliband and 93,000 for Mr Clegg. Prime Minister David Cameron was the second most mentioned leader on the night, in 162,000 tweets, while Ukip leader Nigel Farage was mentioned most - more than 262,000 times on the social media platform.

Jonny Tudor 'humbled' by Leaders' Debate question chance

Politics student Jonny Tudor was the first to ask a question during last night's Leaders' Debate and told ITV News of his sense of "excitement and privilege", saying he felt "humbled" by the experience.

When it came up that I needed to put a question forward I didn't expect to get this far. My initial intention was just to be a part of the studio audience. It was just an added bonus and a privilege to ask a question.

Being one of four questions being truly central to the crux of the debate. It's quite humbling and it was a great honour for me.

– Politics student Jonny Tudor

"I initially felt quite taken aback about being on first name terms with the Prime Minister, and that was quite exciting for me," he said.

YouGov poll: Cameron surges to highest support at 37%

David Cameron's Conservatives scored 37% in a YouGov opinion poll ahead of the May 7 election, the highest level of support in the survey since March 2012, The Sun newspaper reported.

YouGov poll gives Cameron highest support at 37%. Credit: PA

Opinion polls indicate neither the PM's Conservatives nor the opposition Labour Party shall win an overall majority in the 650-seat parliament as millions of voters turn to the UK Independence Party and the separatist Scottish National Party.

A YouGov poll for The Sun newspaper showed Conservative Party support had risen to 37%, the highest rating in the survey since before the 2012 budget, while Ed Miliband's Labour Party was on 35%, the newspaper said.


Lucas praises Bennett's debate performance

Green Party MP Caroline Lucas has praised party leader Natalie Bennett tonight, and said she thinks she "manged to get across a really clear message" about Green Party policy being about more than just the environment.

Lucas shared her comments with ITV News:

Wigley: Wood came across as 'sincere and genuine'

Former Plaid Cymru leader Dafydd Wigley has said he is "very pleased" with Leanne Wood's performance in tonight's leaders' debate.

Speaking to ITV News he said Wood came across as a "sincere, genuine person reflecting the politics and priorities of Wales".

Undecided voters react to debate from their own homes

Voters across the country who have not yet decided whose box in which to place their ballot were watching tonight's leaders' debate in earnest, hoping for help in making up their minds.

The polling team at Comres identified six such groups to help ITV News monitor reactions to what was said during the two-hour event.

Political correspondent Libby Wiener was watching them as they watched the debate:

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