Tonight’s audience-free virtual Question Time comes from the ether, with the show having apparently abandoned its pandemic practice of sourcing video questions from a particular town. But who’s on the panel? Here’s your complete guide…
Who? Transport secretary
Brought back into frontline politics by Boris Johnson after being humiliatingly demoted from the cabinet by David Cameron in 2015, Shapps is best known for living a double life as an internet marketing salesman called Michael Green while he was an MP, something he described as a ‘joke’ or ‘normal’, which it is most definitely is, obviously. As Johnson’s transport secretary he was expected to be tasked with kicking issues like HS2 and Heathrow expansion, two things which seemed relatively important until about six weeks ago, down the road for the next decade. Has instead been spending this week organising a flypast for Captain Tom Moore’s 100th birthday and urging people to hold off booking a foreign holiday this summer, advice which, in the ‘statements of the bleeding obvious’ rankings, stands aside not putting pressure on the NHS by deliberately and repeatedly slamming one’s own thumb in the car door.
Have your say
Send your letters for publication to The New European by emailing email@example.com and pick up an edition each Thursday for more comment and analysis. Find your nearest stockist here or subscribe to a print or digital edition for just £13. You can also join our readers' Facebook group to keep the discussion and debate going with thousands of fellow pro-Europeans.
Who? Shadow chancellor of the exchequer
Elected to Parliament in 2017, Dodds served 25 days on the backbenches before being promoted to Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow team and is now Kier Starmer’s shadow chancellor, being widely seen as an uncontroversial, non-factional pick. Said on Any Questions last year: ‘Well I guess I’m anti-Brexit. Well no, not guess, I am anti-Brexit.’ Expect more fiery rhetoric like that tonight. Anneliese Dodds fact #1: she has used the word ‘bricolage’ – the construction or creation of a work from a diverse range of things that happen to be available – twice in parliamentary debates, making her the only MP to use the word in the past 219 years. Anneliese Dodds fact #2: despite being one of the most senior figures in British politics, she has a Wikipedia entry made up of 352 words, 75 fewer than little-remembered 1980s comedy band The Grumbleweeds.
Who? Scottish Government health secretary
SNP health secretary, the inclusion of whom will infuriate nationalist tweeters forced to find something else to get blood-pressure-threateningly angry about tonight, Freeman has held the role since June 2018, having previously been responsible for social security. The former Communist has been considerably more open than her English counterpart in admitting we’re going to be sat in our pants watching Seinfeld for a very long time, saying we are in ‘uncharted territory’ and ‘returning to what we regard as a normal life will not be possible in the near future’. Don’t have nightmares!
Who? Geneticist and cell biologist
The latest beneficiary of Question Time’s recent innovation of booking guests who might actually know what they’re talking about, Nurse won a Nobel Prize in 2001 which, while not shielding him from people online with names like AlbionOverlord accusing him of being a shill/traitor, means he’s probably worth a listen. Director of the Francis Crick Institute, he has said of the prime minister: ‘It’s galling when people who have denounced experts then come on the stage and start talking about experts.’ Was then attacked by claret-nosed Daily Mail columnist Nigel Lawson who accused him of sneering from the sidelines, somehow made it all about the euro and anyway, he had been ‘speaking to a friend’ who knew better. Nurse’s full title is Sir Paul Maxime Nurse FRS FMedSci HonFREng HonFBA MAE, which must make filling in online forms an irksome task.
Who? Editor of the Evening Standard
In an alternative universe, in which David Cameron did not call an unnecessary and devastating referendum because he was worried about political and intellectual heavyweights like Mark Francois and Andrew Rosindell defecting to the UK Independence Party, Osborne would now be almost a year into his first full term as prime minister, leading the medical and economic fight against coronavirus. But Cameron did, meaning Osborne is now the editor of the capital’s evening newspaper, a turn which the former prime minister has revealed his chancellor has expressed to him his frustration by saying: ‘I told you not to do that f***ing referendum.’ Meanwhile, there is still no word as to whether Osborne has got his shorthand.
• Question Time is on BBC One at 10.45pm tonight.