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Who is on the BBC Any Questions panel tonight?

Any Questions presenter Ritula Shah (Pic: BBC) - Credit: BBC

Who is on Any Questions tonight and where do they stand on Brexit? Here’s your guide…

BBC Radio 4’s flagship politics panel tonight comes from Keighley, the West Yorkshire town about which John Cooper Clarke wrote in his poem Burnley: “I’ll tell you now and I’ll tell you briefly, I don’t ever want to go to Keighley.” But who will be forced to spend their Friday night there? Here’s your guide to the panel and where they stand on Brexit…

Jake Berry

Who? Well, quite. Junior minister in the Department of Housing, Communities and Local Government

Where is he on Brexit? Remain backer ahead of the 2016 referendum. Now claims he got it wrong

Parliamentary under-secretary of state for the Northern Powerhouse (remember that?) and local growth, Berry backed Remain in 2016 but has since publicly recanted, insisting straight-facedly the UK was making “great progress” in its Brexit negotiations and that he would now vote to quit the EU. Told the Lancashire Telegraph last year that he “was a reluctant Remain voter but now describe myself as a ‘re-leaver’ and having seen what has happened since the referendum would now vote for Brexit. We are making great progress in our negotiations with the EU. I am convinced Theresa May will secure a good deal for trade with the EU and the wider world.” A fiercely ambitious backer of Boris Johnson for the Tory leadership, the Yorkshire Post last month reported that he had “demanded a Cabinet role in the next government and said he will use his seat at the top table to take on the Treasury over investment in the north”. Good luck with that, Jake. Made headlines last year when he described opponents of arms dealer BAE Systems sponsoring an arms festival as “subsidy-addicted artists” and “snowflakes”. Once grew a moustache, saying “having a moustache changes your life”.

Dan Jarvis

Who? Mayor of the Sheffield city region and Labour MP for Barnsley Central

Where is he on Brexit? A Remain backer who now says the referendum verdict should be respected. Coincidentally his constituency is the 11th most Eurosceptic in Britain

A classic example of the modern-day gig economy, being forced to be both a mayor and an MP to make ends meet, Jarvis is a Corbyn-sceptic who has largely kept his head down apart from voting for Owen Smith in the botched 2016 leadership challenge. Said ahead of the Brexit referendum that “what is required is a hard-headed judgement about what is in our national interest and for me that’s staying in the EU”, but Barnsley voted a whopping 68% to leave, with Jarvis saying “the EU referendum produced a clear result and I will vote to ensure that the will of the people is enacted”. Was one of the 26 MPs representing Leave areas who wrote to Corbyn last month pleading with him not to tack towards Remain. A decorated paratrooper before entering politics, he was briefly mentioned as a candidate for leader after Ed Miliband (remember him?) stood down but decided not to stand. Has defended his decision to remain an MP while serving as mayor, saying his “unique position has been invaluable in enabling me to press the government and cajole ministers on a raft of matters – I simply would not have had the same clout if I’d walked away from Parliament”. Hmmmm.

Tim Farron

Who? Liberal Democrat spokesman for communities and local government

Where is he on Brexit? The Lib Dems’ campaign slogan for May’s European election campaign was the ambiguous “Bollocks to Brexit”

Lib Dem leader from 2015 to 2017, stepping down after a dismal general election campaign he allowed to be dominated by him getting tied up in knots over whether he thought gay sex was a sin or not, along with being caught on camera asking a voter to “smell my spaniel”. Vehemently anti-Brexit, he has said fellow Remainers in Labour and the Tories should “grow a flipping backbone and leave”, although admits: “I am no EU flag-waving federalist and nor am I an apologist for all that emanates from Brussels. I do not have Ode to Joy as my ring tone and I do not know a single word of Esperanto.” But is “convinced that Britain’s future must lie in Europe and that to leave would be a tragic, tragic mistake”. Was the former frontman of the Preston-based group Tim Farron and the Voyeurs, described by one of its own members as “a fourth-rate New Order”. Announcing the publication of his autobiography earlier this month, he said it “will include archive photos of me in my band – it may be worth buying it for that alone”. Has a tendency of speaking like a Whizzer and Chips character (“Cripes! Blimey! Yowzers!”).

Alex Phillips

Who? Brexit Party MEP for South East England

Where is she on Brexit? Quite keen

Elected to the European Parliament for the Brexit Party earlier this year, Phillips was previously head of media for UKIP, defecting to the Conservatives way back in 2016 and announcing she was “extremely impressed” with Theresa May. She trumpeted that move in a post for the Conservative Home website weirdly beginning with an anecdote about how when she was 24 she had a Cameroonian-Algerian boyfriend who left cigarette ends around their house and scraped her Vauxhall Corsa. Now said to be very close to Nigel Farage, who she has described as “the sole voice that represents the 17.4m people who voted to leave”, “the person who is prepared to stand up and deliver on Brexit” and “a larger-than-life character with magnetism almost impossible to ignore”. A favourite of the Brexit Party’s in-house journal, the Daily Express, she has demanded a seat for the party in any further negotiations with the EU saying it was “absurd” that a party with no Westminster representation was not involved in the talks. Says “17.4m people” a lot.

Any Questions is on BBC Radio 4 at 8pm tonight (repeated 1.10pm tomorrow)

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