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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 Wallasey, the Merseyside town which gave the world baker and tabloid favourite Paul Hollywood. But who will be up for the technical challenge of the Irish border problem – and who will be left with a soggy bottom? Here’s who’s on the panel and where they stand on Brexit…

Nadhim Zahawi

Who? Junior business minister

Where is he on Brexit? Brexit backer who cited the reluctance of European leaders to change. Voted for Theresa May’s deal

The co-founder of polling firm YouGov – which is always good for getting Twitter’s more enthusiastic conspiracy theorists wound up – Zahawi was a reluctant Brexiteer who wrote for Conservative Home prior to the referendum that “there are some extremely unattractive figures campaigning to leave the EU from George Galloway to Nigel Farage and it pains me to be dragged towards them on any issue”. Chivalrously suggested this week that journalist Charlotte Edwardes may have invented her story of being groped under the table by Boris Johnson, saying “well, I don’t know Charlotte Edwardes, you’d have to ask her that question”, while dismissing the Jennifer Arcuri allegations with “everything was done correctly and in the proper way”. Ambitious if dull loyalist playing the nightwatchman role for the Tories tonight.

Sarah Jones

Who? Well, quite. Shadow housing minister

Where is she on Brexit? Anti. Has publicly backed a People’s Vote as the only way to break the impasse

A little-known junior minister who joined the Labour Party as a direct reaction to Peter Lilley’s God-awful ‘Little List’ song at the 1992 Conservative conference, Jones backed a second referendum in the summer. Not on the Corbynite wing of the party, those who know her describe her as a bread-and-butter politician more concerned about knife crime in her native Croydon than the importance of defending Nicolás Maduro in Venezuela. Won her seat in 2017 by defeating Gavin Barwell, the Tory MP who went on to prove nothing succeeds like failure by being appointed first Theresa May’s chief of staff then a life peer. Jones said last month that some SNP MPs had taken to giving her enormous bear-hugs from behind, only to say disappointedly as she turned around “I thought you were Jess Phillips”.

Melanie Phillips

Who? Journalist, commentator and Times columnist

Where is she on Brexit? Enthusiastic Brexiteer who has damned Remainers as “arrogant” and dismissed any form of compromise, saying “compromise means half-in, half-out. And half-out means still remaining in”

A commentator on the hard right universally known by colleagues – not least at The Times – as Mad Mel, Phillips is a visceral opponent of – deep breath – a Brexit deal with the EU (“the people did not vote in the referendum for any kind of deal or none. They simply voted to leave”), the overwhelming scientific consensus on climate change (“there is no evidence for global warming”), gay rights (“a ruthless campaign by the gay rights lobby to destroy the very concept of normal sexual behaviour”), Scottish and Irish nationalism (“cultural phenomena rooted in romanticism and myth”) and modern British culture in general (“a debauched and disorderly culture of instant gratification, with disintegrating families, feral children and violence, squalor and vulgarity on the streets”). Fun fact: Melanie Phillips has never once experienced the human emotion of joy.

Bonnie Greer

Who? Novelist, critic, broadcaster and New European columnist

Where is she on Brexit? Remainer. Says the Brexit cause “has become a flag of convenience: for racists, bigots and xenophobes”

An American-British playwright who has lived in the UK since 1986, Greer is a New European columnist who has written that “I’m not suggesting that everyone who voted Leave is a racist or a bigot or a xenophobe. That would be a racist, bigoted and ridiculous thing to even suggest. But every Leave person I’ve asked either can’t or won’t answer this: Why do racists, bigots, xenophobes find, in Brexit, a flag of convenience, a refuge? What attracts these kinds of people to the campaign to leave the EU?”. Has served on the boards of several leading arts organisations, including the British Museum, the Royal Opera House and the London Film School. Like Greer’s appearance? She is appearing on a special live edition of The New European Podcast at the Podcast Live festival in London this Saturday – tickets still available.

Anand Menon

Who? Professor of European politics and foreign affairs at King’s College London and director of the UK in a Changing Europe initiative

Where is he on Brexit? An impartial academic, he has described no-deal proponents as “snake-oil salesmen” but opposed a second referendum as “a rerun, with arguments about an ill-defined future between camps who no longer listen to each other”

As one of the leading academic voices on the UK’s departure from the EU – dubbed “the Brexpert’s Brexpert” – Menon knows what he is talking about, and thus was presumably booked by mistake. Maybe Arg from TOWIE was unavailable. Menon wrote earlier this week that one option for Boris Johnson “may be to lose the battle and win the war: admit tactical defeat in Parliament, knock over his king and resign. He may then hope to win the election to come. Another, more likely scenario, is that Johnson has already concluded that the risks of attempting to secure a deal are too high. He could stage a dramatic walkout from the European council, arguing that the EU has been unreasonable. Then when the law insists on an extension being requested, use populist rhetoric to attack the ‘remainer parliament’ that has stymied the ‘will of the people’ – with all that could entail.” Will spend tonight explaining what trading on WTO terms means while Melanie Phillips repeatedly shouts “17.4 MILLION PEOPLE”.

Question Time is on BBC One at 10.35pm tonight (11.20pm in Northern Ireland)

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