Who is on Question Time tonight and where do they stand on Brexit? Here’s your guide…
The BBC’s flagship current affairs programme tonight comes from Banbury, the Oxfordshire market town famous for its cakes. But who will rise to the occasion – and who will be half-baked? Here’s who’s on the panel and where they stand on Brexit…
Who? Prisons minister
Where is he on Brexit? A Remain voter and campaigner who declared after the referendum that “Britain must now make the best of Brexit… the decision is made, and we should be energetic and optimistic”
Considered a rare and exotic beast at Westminster, in that he did something before entering politics, Stewart served as deputy governor of two Iraqi provinces after the 2003 invasion and later walked across Afghanistan, the source material of his 2006 bestseller The Places in Between. Considered on the liberal wing of the Tory Party, he opposed Brexit but has since spoke of needing “nimble and intelligent ways of thinking about Britain in the world”. Theresa May raised eyebrows at the start of this year when she moved Stewart from a role across the Foreign Office and International Development (in which he is one of Parliament’s few experts) to prisons (of which he isn’t). Said last month he would resign in a year if he failed to reduce drugs and violence levels in 10 target jails, so enjoy him while you can.
Who? Labour MP for Nottingham East
Where is he on Brexit? Soft Remainer and one of the loudest voices on the Labour benches pushing for Britain to stay in the single market and customs union
Inevitably introduced as a former shadow chancellor – which is technically true, in that Peter Taylor is a former England manager – Leslie has a firm grasp of the minutiae of Brexit and is one of the few on the Labour benches putting in the hard yards tabling amendments and making life difficult for the government. Wrote of his own front bench last month that it had “chosen fudge and ‘constructive ambiguity’ to try to appeal to all sides”, accusing the leadership of “putting short-term political gain ahead of what is right for the country”. No fan of the Absolute Boy, he is firmly in the Corbynistas’ sights and last week a local branch of his constituency party passed a vote of no confidence in him. His appearance tonight will be met with the clackety-clack of Corbyn groupies tweeting about the biased BBC having no Labour MP on.
Who? Retail magnate and entrepreneur
Where is he on Brexit? Voted for Brexit; now regularly takes to the airwaves to complain that the government is distracted by Brexit
One of the few businessmen with a public persona to vote in favour of Brexit, the pen-peddling Dragon’s Den star hardly did so with a zealot’s relish, writing before the referendum that “I believe that if we vote to leave the EU there’s a very high chance that our friends in the EU will stop and smell the coffee and propose the sort of reforms that many would like to see and would make them comfortable to remain”. Now a frequent critic of Theresa May’s government, describing it as “like The Thick Of It and Yes Minister all rolled into one, except that it’s not funny any more. It’s extremely sad for the businesses that have people to pay.” A former financial backer of ex-Brexit secretary David David, he has since accused the government of “swanning around, having a punch-up in the playground”. Filling tonight’s “I’m not a politician, but…” role.
Who? Director of left-wing think tank CLASS
Where is she on Brexit? Fluid at best. Some writings suggest she voted to Remain, although, less ambiguously, wrote earlier this year that “Brexit can be harnessed for good” but “the left hasn’t realised this yet”
An economist, writer, activist and commentator, Shaheen is also a fully paid-up Corbynista and prospective Labour candidate in Iain Duncan Smith’s Chingford constituency whenever the next general election comes. Previously head of inequality and sustainable development at Save the Children UK, she has accused “the progressive left” of “lacking clarity on what we want from Brexit”. Has written that “the stakes are too high to put all our eggs in the ‘reversing Brexit’ basket, and in any case this could turn very nasty, potentially leading to revolt across the country from those who voted to leave”. Joined Labour in 2015 and has been a vocal defender of the leadership’s handling of the summer anti-semitism crisis. Went to the same school as David Beckham and Harry Kane.
Who? Right-wing radio presenter and commentator
Where is she on Brexit? Really?
This week’s booking to avert any danger of more light than heat being generated, Hartley-Brewer is a former Sunday Express political journalist turned shock jock, now plying her trade on talkRADIO. Unlike Chris Leslie, with his grasp of the Brexit numbers, Hartley-Brewer has only one and that’s SEVENTEEN POINT FOUR MILLION and that’s THE MOST PEOPLE WHO HAVE EVER VOTED FOR ANYTHING and WHY CAN’T YOU REMOANERS GET THAT INTO YOUR THICK HEADS. Last week dismissed reports the government had told pharmaceutical companies to stockpile six weeks’ worth of medicines as “make-believe”, saying: “We’ve had enough Project Fear predictions. They’ve all turned out to be absolute nonsense.” Tweeted this morning she might wear a necklace saying ‘Brexit’ on the programme because LOLZ.
Question Time is on BBC One at 10.45pm tonight (11.20pm in Northern Ireland).