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Who is on the BBC Question Time panel tonight?

Fiona Bruce, presenter of the BBC's Question Time - Credit: BBC

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 Belfast, the hometown of TV and radio presenter Colin Murray. But who will win over the audience and critics like Fighting Talk – and who will be very quickly forgotten like RI:SE? Here’s your panel and where they stand on Brexit…

Tobias Ellwood

Who? Well, quite. Junior defence minister

Where is he on Brexit? Voted Remain in the referendum and a strong opponent within government of leaving without a deal

Leading a real Who’s Who on tonight’s QT – in that every panellist’s name will make you say ‘who?’ – Ellwood is a former soldier now serving as a parliamentary under-secretary of state at the Ministry of Defence. Presumably spends much of his time seething at serving under Gavin Williamson, who has only seen action with a colleague at a fireplace firm. A firm opponent of the European Research Group, he has said: ‘I don’t recall no-deal, moving to World Trade Organisation terms, being the favoured option of the referendum result’. Has added: ‘No deal would be an act of self-harm and it would damage our economy and security and indeed our international reputation.’ Described as a hero after giving mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and CPR to police officer Keith Palmer, who died in a 2017 terrorist attack on Westminster, Ellwood is seen as future leadership material by what remains of the liberal Tories.

Nick Thomas-Symonds

Who? Well, quite. Shadow solicitor general

Where is he on Brexit? Sits for Torfaen, which voted 60% to Leave. Loyally sticks to line this could all be sorted if only Jeremy Corbyn and his winning smile was conducting negotiations in Brussels

Not even a household name in his own household, the former lawyer was elected to Parliament in 2015 and is already on to his third shadow ministerial post without anyone noticing. The sort of ultra-dry party loyalist who issues press releases titled ‘Nick Thomas-Symonds MP welcomes local community funding boost’ and spends weekends tweeting pictures showing how great it was to be out on the #LabourDoorstep. Will stick to the party line that Labour would deliver a jobs-first Brexit by entering ‘a’ customs union with the EU regardless of whether he believes in or even understands it. The author of biographies of Nye Bevan and Clement Attlee, Thomas-Symonds was named ‘One to Watch’ at the 2015 Welsh Politician of the Year awards in what was presumably quite a fallow year.

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson

Who? Well, quite. DUP chief whip in the House of Commons

Where is he on Brexit? A hardline Brexiteer, like most of his party. Believes no-deal would not lead to a hard border in Ireland

One of the less mad of the DUP’s parliamentary contingent – a compliment akin to being one of the ‘less tall’ of the Harlem Globetrotters – Donaldson is Northern Ireland’s longest-serving current MP. Insists no-deal would be a cinch, saying: ‘I hear the Irish prime minister say very clearly that even in the event of a no-deal outcome, there will not be a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic. That is the stated position of the Irish government, and the stated position of the UK government. So where is this hard border coming from?’. To which the answer is: the World Trade Organisation, if you wish to use its arrangements to trade between two countries with convergent customs and regulatory regimes. A defector from the Ulster Unionists after falling out with David Trimble over the Good Friday Agreement negotiations.

John O’Dowd

Who? Well, quite. Sinn Féin Member of the Northern Ireland Assembly for Upper Bann

Where is he on Brexit? Opposed while simultaneously seeing it as an opportunity to unify Ireland

Another relative unknown – his Wikipedia entry, at 250 words, is shorter than that of Shed Seven’s second album A Maximum High (1,475) – O’Dowd has been MLA for Upper Bann since 2003. Given the Assembly hasn’t sat for well over two years, this is a gig mainly involving watching Homes Under The Hammer. Has said that ‘the democratic wishes of the people here to vote to Remain within the EU have been ignored by Theresa May and her government. We hear the line that Brexit means Brexit, which is a denial of the democratic situation here in the north’. Has suggested Northern Ireland should be allowed to remain in the EU, saying: ‘If the people of England and Wales wish to leave the European Union, so be it, but when we’re pulling together two economic units post against each other against the will of the people, there are going to be barriers in place.’

Polly Mackenzie

Who? Well, quite. Director of the cross-party think tank Demos

Where is she on Brexit? Remainer who has said Brexit ‘will probably be a disaster for Britain’

A former advisor to Nick Clegg as deputy prime minister who helped to write the 2010 coalition agreement, Mackenzie was involved in setting up the Women’s Equality Party following the Lib Dems’ disastrous election of 2015. Now director of Demos, whose website states: ‘We bring people together. We bridge divides. We listen and we understand.’ So Lord knows what she’s doing on this programme. Founded the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute, a charity working to break the link between financial difficulty and mental health problems before joining Demos. The former business journalist is tonight’s person most likely to try to make a point that, actually, things are a bit more complicated than that, before being shouted down by someone yelling about 17.4m people.

Question Time is on BBC One at 10.35pm tonight (11.15pm in Northern Ireland)

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