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 Warrington’s Pyramid Arts Centre, which next week plays host to an evening with Creation Records co-founder Alan McGee. But who will have the audience on their feet like Oasis – and who will quickly vanish without trace like 18 Wheeler? Here’s who’s on the panel and where they stand on Brexit…
Who? Conservative MP for Rushcliffe
Where is he on Brexit? Remainer’s Remainer who now reluctantly backs a soft Brexit. The sole Conservative MP to vote against the triggering of Article 50, he has since voted for Theresa May’s deal three times
A lifelong Europhile whose pro-EU position has cost him the Tory leadership on three separate occasions, Clarke was one of only five ministers to serve throughout the whole 18 years of the governments of Margaret Thatcher and John Major. Used to trumpet the UK joining the euro but now concedes he has made ‘a very considerable compromise’. Has described Brexit as ‘like a parody version of student politics’, said Michael Gove would ‘go to war with at least three countries at once’ if PM, described some of the utterances of Andrea Leadsom as ‘extremely stupid’ and said that ‘the idea of Boris [Johnson] as prime minister is ridiculous’. A cigar-puffing jazz-lover, he has said Thatcher would have voted to Remain, prompting anger from many fellow Tories. But to quote another Creation Records signing, Super Furry Animals: The Man Don’t Give a F**k.
Who? Shadow foreign secretary
Where is she on Brexit? An ardent Remain campaigner during the referendum, Thornberry has blown hot and cold ever since but now on the second-referendum wing of the Labour frontbench
Thornberry won few plaudits last year for saying that Labour would ‘probably’ back Theresa May’s agreement, saying: ‘What’s the nature of the divorce? And I think if past evidence of the last few months is anything to go on, it’s going to be a ‘blah, blah, blah’ divorce.’ Has since umm-ed and ahh-ed, initially being one of the first frontbenchers to say that Labour should seek to delay Brexit by extending the Article 50 period, then claiming the People’s Vote movement saw the campaign as more of an ‘opportunity to attack’ the Absolute Boy rather than making the case to stay in the EU. Now backs a second poll. Probably Parliament’s most accomplished performer of the theatrical eye-roll, she stood in for Corbyn at PMQs last week and immediately made a difference by knowing where in a sentence to put the stress.
Where is he on Brexit? Firm Brexiteer. Tends to be dubbed ‘the Brexit comedian’ in the press, which if nothing else must annoy Geoff Norcott
Comic who has written that ‘in the comedy community, the perception seems to be that Brexiteers are poorly educated and probably racist… my hackles rise at that suggestion.’ The presenter of Radio 4’s Simon Evans Goes To Market, he has been feted as a ‘right-wing comedian’ by none other than Rod Liddle, which is probably unfair, even if he is unlikely to hang around at Latitude with Mark Steel and Josie Long. Told Question Time last year that ‘we need to show some courage and some spunk’ on Brexit, which was hailed as a ‘BRILLIANT case for Brexit’ by easily-impressed Daily Express journalist Matt Drake. Voiced the fox in the Old Speckled Hen TV ads (Evans, not Drake).
Who? Chief leader writer at the Observer and deputy opinion editor at the Guardian
Where is she on Brexit? Anti. Supports a second referendum
As chief leader writer and a columnist at the Observer as well as being a freelance public policy and strategy consultant, Sodha is, on paper, a Brexiteer’s caricature of the London liberal elite. Centre-left and no Corbynista, she wrote the Observer leader earlier this year that said ‘the longer Corbyn puts off backing a referendum, the more he creates the impression that he too is simply letting the clock run down in order to avoid making a decision in the hope that voters will blame Conservatives for any Brexit fiasco. But if Labour enables May’s Brexit, history will not forgive the party’. Previously a senior policy adviser to Ed Miliband, running Labour’s Small Business Taskforce, Sodha now gets to pontificate on Question Time while Miliband is a backbencher with a funny podcast. Strange old world, eh?
Who? Associate director of free-market think tank the Institute of Economic Affairs
Where is she on Brexit? Brexit cheerleader on the Liam Fox swashbucklin’ Global Britain wing
Previously head of communications at the Adam Smith Institute and staffer on Mitt Romney’s wildly successful presidential campaign, Andrews will give Evans tough competition in the race to get a fawning write-up on the Express’ website tomorrow for TAKING DOWN REMOANERS by reminding them they lost the referendum. Told the audience on a previous appearance that Britain would be ‘richer if you use the process of Brexit to be optimistic and to try and pursue the best deals possible’ – the sort of detailed analysis which earns one the think tank big bucks. Has suggested that the no-deal Brexit favoured by the European Research Group wouldn’t be a disaster, saying: ‘I don’t think that a bare-bones Brexit would be the end of the world.’ An American, she wrote touchingly last year that ‘I can celebrate from both sides of the pond the opportunities Brexit creates’.
Question Time is on BBC One at 10.35pm tonight (11.15pm in Northern Ireland)