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 Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh. Yes, it’s the annual Scottish special in which the producers attempt to placate those who complain it ignores matters north of the border, only for David Dimbleby to upset everybody on Twitter by failing to understand which areas of policy are devolved. But who will vow they’ll never take away their freedom? And who will go down as well as Russ Abbot at a cèilidh? Here’s who’s on the panel and where they stand on Brexit…
Who? Editor of The Spectator magazine
Where is he on Brexit? Leaver who claims to have had a poster on the wall of the Channel Tunnel as a teenager but views the EU as “an undemocratic and decaying institution that stopped helping Europe some time ago”
A political journalist previously of The Times and The Scotsman, Nelson differs from the usual Brexit-supporting hacks on the QT panel in that he comes across as polite, literate and unlikely to repeatedly scream “you lost, get over it” over and over again in the absence of any more germane argument. Self-confessed “soppy Europhile who speaks a second language at home” (Swedish), his magazine came out for Leave in 2016, arguing “Britain will be better able to respond and adapt as a sovereign country living under its own laws”. Has previously said he would put £100 on Leave winning the 2014 Scottish independence referendum and £1,000 on Ed Miliband winning the 2015 election, the lesson being, whatever he predicts tonight, to get down to William Hill in the morning and have a flutter on the opposite. Strange accent, like a RADA-educated actor attempting an Edinburgh undergraduate.
Who? MSP for Lothian and former leader of Scottish Labour
Where is she on Brexit? Ardent Remainer and founder of Scottish Labour for the Single Market, which campaigns for Britain to be in the EEA. Says “nobody voted to put jobs at risk, prolong austerity or tear up our rights at work and as consumers”
Leader of Scottish Labour for two years during a turbulent period when it appeared everybody in Scotland was going to get a crack at the job, Dugdale’s appearance will fire up the Corbynite tweeters complaining there is no Labour representation on the panel tonight #BlairBroadcastingCorporation. Quit as leader last year in apparent protest at the Absolute Boy’s Brexit stance, she has since – an unlikely stint on I’m A Celebrity aside – been at war with the leadership over its backtracking on an alleged promise to fund her defence in a legal case being taken against her by a website. Tipped by many to defect to the nationalists – her partner is SNP MSP Jenny Gilruth and she has removed any reference to her being a Labour MSP from her Twitter profile in recent weeks.
Who? Crime writer best known for a series of suspense novels featuring Dr Tony Hill
Where is she on Brexit? Remain voter who said in 2016 that she would vote for both practical and cultural reasons: on the former it would be easier to protect writers’ rights and revenues while on the latter it enhanced Britain’s culture, making it deeper and wider. Said “the last thing we should do is look inward”
Hugely successful crime writer – she took to Twitter yesterday to correct Question Time’s claim she had written 27 novels, saying it was 32 – and a leading voice in Scottish affairs, McDermid backed Remain in 2016. However, she did say it would create a ‘”strong groundswell” for a second Scottish independence referendum – something she might welcome, having backed Leave in 2014 (she admitted before the vote that she was going public “with a degree of trepidation”). A socialist and radical feminist often described as the “titan of tartan noir”, the Edinburgh native made headlines this week when she said tourism was ‘tearing up the fabric of the city’ which was becoming ‘intolerable’ for locals.
Who? Scottish secretary for government business and constitutional relations
Where is he on Brexit? Remainer, like most in the SNP, who has described Brexit as “a completely unnecessary waste of time and money, which we now know was only obtained by deceit and, most likely, illegal campaign funding”
The Scottish cabinet minister responsible for Brexit, Russell has the unenviable task of making Scotland’s voice heard in negotiations while simultaneously dampening the ardour of party members who would like a second referendum on independence in a New York minute. Warned yesterday that rushing into IndyRef2 after Brexit could derail a Yes vote, saying that independence was not about ‘grabbing a lifeboat in choppy and dangerous seas” but “securing ‘a route to a better Scotland, in a better Europe influencing the creation of a better world”. A fierce critic of the UK government’s negotiating position, he has described it as ‘incapable’ of working in Scotland’s interests and warned of a growing risk the UK will be forced into a ‘chaotic, blind Brexit’. Almost certainly the only Bromley-born person to speak fluent Gaelic.
Who? Conservative MP for Aberdeen South
Where is he on Brexit? Loud Brexiteer who served as a spokesperson in Scotland for the Vote Leave campaign and has repeatedly attacked Theresa May’s Chequers plan
The 31-year-old former Debenhams store trainer, only elected to Westminster last year, was little known outside Scotland until this year, becoming a vocal critic of May’s Brexit stance (in fact, he was little known inside Scotland, having served just a year at Holyrood). Has insisted that “the people voted to leave the customs union and the single market and the European Court of Justice”, having apparently seen a different and much more specific ballot paper to everybody else. Acted as a minder to Boris Johnson as he entered the Conservative conference in Birmingham earlier this month, saying “people want to support Boris and others” in their attempts to “change Chequers”. Made headlines earlier this year after posting wacky pictures and joking about channelling his “inner dictator” during a trip to Saddam Hussein’s infamous military parade ground in Baghdad.
Question Time is on BBC One at 10.45pm tonight (11.20pm in Northern Ireland).