Question Time tonight features a virtual audience drawn from Windsor, home of diminutive nonagenarian the Queen. But whose appearance will be a crowning achievement – and who will suffer a vesperum horribilis? Here’s your guide to the panel…
Who? Junior Foreign Office minister
Former soldier and Boris Johnson loyalist who was rewarded in February with the role of minister of state for the Middle East and North Africa, a role in the prime minister’s Splendid Isolation Britain broadly on a par with minister for C60 cassettes. Not short of self-confidence, asked in 2015 who should succeed David Cameron as Tory party leader when he stood down, he responded: “Me.” Has admitted smoking exotic herbal cigarettes and watching special adult film time online. Often referred to as living proof of the fallibility of nominative determinism.
Who? Shadow international trade secretary
A short-lived candidate for the Labour leadership who was rewarded with a widely-expected demotion from shadow foreign secretary by Keir Starmer, Thornberry is a constituency neighbour and former close ally of Jeremy Corbyn who served as his his de facto PMQs deputy until her Brexit stance displeased him. Probably Parliament’s most accomplished performer of the theatrical eye-roll, she still remains best-known to many for being axed from Ed Miliband’s shadow cabinet for a snobbish tweet about white van drivers which forced the then leader to claim the sight of such a vehicle inspired “respect” in him.
Who? Leader of the SNP in the House of Commons
A former banker who was seen as initially struggling to fill the considerable shoes of his predecessor Angus Robertson as the nationalists’ man in London, Blackford is now a surer performer. Boris Johnson’s PMQs performances have shown his strategy vis-à-vis the SNP is to remind people that they favour Scottish independence – so like Theresa May, but louder and, the polls would indicate, even more counterproductively. A former banker with a curious habit of referring to himself as “a humble crofter”, Blackford is likely to be fired up after Johnson said devolution was a “disaster” on a Zoom call with his party’s northern MPs.
Who? Bishop of Dover
The first black woman to be a Church of England bishop – and booked, conspiracy theorists may note, in a week the BBC is heavily publicising the news the Victor of Dibley is to return at Christmas – Hudson-Wilkin also led prayers at the wedding of Netflix entrepreneurs Harry Mountbatten-Windsor and Meghan Markle. A former chaplain to the Speaker of the House of Commons under John Bercow, she has urged people struggling to get through England’s second lockdown “to keep well, keep praying and keep connected”. Has complained the church is “obsessed with sex”, so is well advised to avoid Cleverly’s search history.
Who? Editor of The Spectator
Editor of the Conservatives’ house organ since 2009, Nelson is a self-confessed “soppy Europhile who speaks a second language at home” (Swedish). But, despite his claim to have had a poster on the wall of the Channel Tunnel as a teenager, his magazine unsurprisingly came out for Leave in 2016, arguing “Britain will be better able to respond and adapt as a sovereign country living under its own laws”. His magazine’s coverage of the soap opera has seen surprisingly little insight from either its political editor James Forsyth or commissioning editor Mary Wakefield, a state of affairs no doubt uninformed by them being married to Allegra Stratton and Dominic Cummings respectively.
Question Time is on BBC One at 10.45pm tonight (11.25pm in Northern Ireland)