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 Norwich, the Norfolk city which gave the world actor and national treasure Olivia Coleman. But who’ll win all the critical plaudits like The Favourite – and who’ll be the unmitigated disaster disowned by everyone involved with it like Confetti? Here’s who’s on the panel and where they stand on Brexit…
Who? Minister of state for security
Where is he on Brexit? Campaigned for Remain but says he would now vote Leave, describing himself as “first and foremost a democrat”
A former Tory Party chair with an curious habit of looking on the verge of falling asleep, Lewis was a Theresa May loyalist who acted as a buffer between the long-forgotten former prime minister and the pro-Brexit grassroots. Has since transferred his loyalty wholesale to Boris Johnson. Seen as a bit of a slowpoke by colleagues and foes alike, he is perhaps best known for breaking Parliamentary protocol last year by voting twice for the government on its trade bill despite being paired with Jo Swinson, who was then on maternity leave. Was also criticised following the Grenfell Disaster for having rejected calls to increase fire safety regulations in his former role as housing minister. Appointed a CBE in this week’s honours for doing the job he was very well remunerated for doing. Tonight’s nightwatchman for the Tories.
Who? Shadow housing secretary
Where is he on Brexit? Labour loyalist who toes the party line
One of the plodders who makes up the numbers in Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow cabinet, Healey isn’t a natural Corbynista – he served as a parliamentary private secretary to Gordon Brown as chancellor – but isn’t going to frighten the horses either. Will stick to the leadership line that what Labour wants is a general election but they aren’t necessarily taking a second referendum off the table, while Corbyn’s WhatsApp media outriders tweet that he is playing four-dimensional chess. Has broadly kept his head down and stuck to his portfolio since picking it up in 2015, initially as a shadow minister of state, but did break cover to tell the BBC last week that a renegotiated Labour Brexit deal “would recognise the concerns of many who’ve voted Remain, it would be a better Brexit deal to protect our jobs and our economy”. Buckle yourselves in – there’s plenty of that stirring rhetoric to come tonight.
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.
Who? Professor of European Union and Employment Law at the University of Cambridge
Where is she on Brexit? Impartial but says on deal or no deal, “it’s just the end of the beginning”
One of the UK’s leading experts in the European Union and EU law who has bafflingly chosen to give up a Thursday night to sit in a hall in Norwich and have Jeffrey Donaldson shout out her for an hour about how she’s wrong about everything and is part of the Remoaner elite. The author of no fewer than 12 books on European law, she is a leading researcher working on the issues surrounding the Brexit negotiations. Pointed out last week that “what we will also see if there is a no-deal Brexit is that the EU is very likely to say ‘we will not allow any discussions on the future trade agreement unless they take into account the three big ticket Withdrawal Agreement issues, namely citizens rights, Northern Ireland border and the money'”. One of QT’s irregular bookings of People Who Actually Know What They’re Talking About. Pray for Catherine tonight, people. Pray for her.
Who? Writer, broadcaster and former barrister
Where is she on Brexit? Firmly against. Has written on the rise of racism post-referendum
Born in Norway to a British father and Ghanaian mother, Hirsch is a former social affairs and education editor at Sky News. Has written that “British people who are not white feel less British now because that hostility is palpable, because there is an agenda of regressing to a time, before the European Union, that many remember not for the joys of complete sovereignty, but for the absence of protection from racism in the workplace, or at the hands of the police, or for being openly chased in the streets by white racists”. Published the book Brit(ish): On Race, Identity and Belonging. Caused a few ripples lin 2017 when she suggested that Nelson’s Column should be taken down as it was a symbol of white supremacy, although later clarified that she “wasn’t actually waiting in a bulldozer”.
Question Time is on BBC One at 10.35pm tonight (11.15pm in Northern Ireland)