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 the Octagon Centre at the University of Sheffield’s Students’ Union, which next week plays host to Jesus Christ Superstar. But who will still be insisting Everyone’s Alright – and who will be asking Could We Start Again Please? Here’s your panel and where they stand on Brexit…
Who? Education secretary
Where is he on Brexit? Firm Remain campaigner who was ‘very disappointed’ by the referendum result but quickly switched to ‘focus[sing] all energies on getting the best possible outcome for Britain’
Has remained pretty schtum on the subject since being appointed to education, where he is quietly getting on with his job (initially Theresa May’s arcane and since quietly dumped obsession with grammar schools) although is thought to be one of those who would quit the Cabinet if no-deal became government policy. A liberal catholic who attracted the wrath of his local bishop when he voted in favour of gay marriage, he is well respected by colleagues, widely seen as boring by journalists and pretty much unknown to the public. Tipped in some circles, including his predecessor in the role Michael Gove, as the left’s standard-bearer in a potential future leadership contest – if you fancy a flutter, he beat Brexiteer-in-chief Jacob Rees-Mogg to the Oxford Union presidency in 1991. Basically this evening’s nightwatchman.
Who? Shadow Brexit minister
Where is she on Brexit? Sits for Darlington, which voted 56% to Leave. Loyally sticks to line this could all be sorted if only Jeremy Corbyn and his winning smile was conducting negotiations in Brussels
Little-known shadow minister under Keir Starmer, Chapman was one of many Labour MPs to quit their roles following the Brexit result, saying ‘the uncomfortable truth is that Labour needs a leader who can reach out more widely’. Repented four months later. A recent and reluctant convert to the second referendum cause, is likely to stick to the party line that Labour would deliver a jobs-first Brexit by entering ‘a’ customs union with the EU regardless of whether she believes in or even understands it. A former vice-chair of Progress, the Blairite pressure group many Corbynistas put on a level with the English Defence League, she won 0.1% of the vote in a poll of favourite MPs by grassroots website Labour List last month. Another of those MPs who spend weekends tweeting pictures showing how great it was to be out on the #LabourDoorstep.
Who? Conservative peer and chief executive of Next
Where is he on Brexit? One of the most prominent Brexiteers in British business. Says that leaving the EU could spark an ‘economic renaissance’ for Britain by allowing it to leave behind swathes of regulation
The second Conservative on tonight’s panel in what may be a BBC experiment in bringing Twitter down, Wolfson is a firm Brexiteer with a view on no-deal that could best be described as ‘volatile’. In September last year issued a stark warning about the dangers, saying: ‘The ports that will have the biggest problems will be the ones having more EU goods, so basically Dover.’ The following month reversed course, stating: ‘There is a lot of catastrophisation about a no-deal Brexit. The people making these predictions are not traders, they are politicians.’ Now says its clothes could actually be cheaper in the event of no-deal, which is at least good news for those men buying its suits for their first court appearance. Elevated to the House of Lords in 2010 although rarely attends.
Who? Greek economist, academic and politician
Where is he on Brexit? Remainer, despite spending an eventful 19-month stint as Greece’s finance minister battling the EU over his country’s government debt crisis
Hard-left economist who surprised many when he came out and campaigned against Britain leaving the EU, even credited with turning Jeremy Corbyn from an outright opponent of membership to the lukewarmest of lukewarm supporters. Has said ‘Audiences were puzzled: ‘How can you, given the way the EU treated you and your country, tell us that we should remain?’.’ Not helped by the likes of Michael Gove hailing his book, And the Weak Suffer What They Must?, as the best argument to leave the EU. Argued this week for the UK ‘to stay both in the customs union and the single market for an indefinite period during which to have the debate over what next step Britain should take’. Leather jacketed and often astride a motorbike, Varoufakis is the man Paul Mason sees in the mirror, while the rest of us see Rick from The Young Ones.
Merryn Somerset Webb
Who? Editor in chief of Moneyweek and columnist for the Financial Times
Where is she on Brexit? Hard Brexiteer ‘as a firm believer in both the value of the nation state and the importance of maintaining the primacy of democracy over technocratic we-know-bestery’
A hard Brexiteer who has said for no-deal to be a disaster ‘there would have to be extraordinary levels of incompetence’, Somerset Webb has presumably never heard the words ‘Chris Grayling’. Adds sanguinely: ‘Take food and medicine. Yes, if the UK stopped importing from the EU, things could get nasty fast. But why would we?’. Again: ‘Chris Grayling,’ An acolyte of the Leave’s movement’s ‘intellectual guru’ Daniel Hannan, Somerset Webb claims that she was turned into a Brexiteer after interviewing Nick Clegg in 2015. Has called for Nigel Farage to be elevated to the peerage, saying he is ‘obviously committed to his country’ and ‘it would make sense that his views be represented in the House of Lords’. Tonight’s shoo-in for a fawning Express Online article on how she SHUT DOWN REMOANERS IN THE MOST EPIC WAY.
Question Time is on BBC One at 10.35pm tonight (11.15pm in Northern Ireland)