Who is on the BBC Question Time panel tonight? Here’s your full guide
Tonight’s audience-free virtual Question Time comes from the ether, with the show having abandoned its pandemic practice of sourcing video questions from a particular town. But who’s on the panel? Here’s your complete guide…
Who? Environment secretary
The former unsuccessful Ukip candidate and Head of Press for Michael Howard, Eustice was promoted by Boris Johnson to his liberal, outward-looking Global Britain Cabinet. The choice of Environment came not without controversy, what with Eustice having a decidedly iffy voting record on climate change issues and in 2015 accepting a £5,000 donation from Neil Record, a director of the Global Warming Policy Forum, a body which believes it to be a load of old piffle. The hardline Brexiteer also claimed expenses for 29 domestic flights between London and his Cornish constituency since 2012. One of the few cabinet ministers trusted by Dominic Cummings to front the government’s daily press briefings without his trousers dropping down, Eustice has defended the government’s handling of the crisis for older people, while acknowledging its approach had not been ‘perfect’ and that the government focused more on the NHS than care homes in the early stages of the outbreak.
Who? Shadow home secretary
Not even a household name in his own household, the former lawyer was elected to Parliament in 2015 and is on to his fourth shadow ministerial post, this time shadowing one of the great offices of state, without anyone noticing. The sort of ultra-dry party loyalist who issues press releases titled ‘Nick Thomas-Symonds MP welcomes local community funding boost’ and spent weekends tweeting pictures showing how great it was to be out on the #LabourDoorstep in the days when being on people’s doorsteps was appropriate. Said this week that it was ‘incredible’ that the home secretary ‘couldn’t answer clear questions from the select committee regarding controls on flights from areas suffering from extensive coronavirus outbreaks’, making him the only person in politics still surprised by Priti Patel’s crass incompetence. The author of biographies of Nye Bevan and Clement Attlee, Thomas-Symonds was named ‘One to Watch’ at the 2015 Welsh Politician of the Year awards, so chwarae teg.
Who? British-Austrian businessman and former chief executive of Siemens UK
An Austrian-British citizen, Maier is one of those foreign types whose very existence is enough to drive Conservative MP Mark Francois into a teeth-gnashing frenzy. Described by no less than the Daily Express as ‘a Remoaner business leader’ who ‘appears more interested in friendship than the best deal for Britain’. Friendship, eh? The cad. The chairman of the Lib Dem coronavirus business taskforce, which is apparently a thing, he warned this week that it was ‘concerned that once the furlough scheme comes to an end, many businesses, large and small, will simply not have the cashflow to re-employ staff, as it will take time for the economy to recover’ and that an ensuing rise in unemployment ‘could break the economy’s ability to recover, just as we were trying to exit lockdown’. Also said last month that he had two 3D printers at home in Manchester, where his husband Richard Madgin was making 10 face shields per day. ‘We like our gadgets,’ Maier told the Financial Times. ‘And it’s really easy.’
Who? Chief executive of NHS Providers
CEO of the association of NHS trusts and foundation trusts, representing acute, ambulance, community and mental health providers, Hopson is the latest beneficiary of Question Time’s new policy of booking someone who might actually know what they’re talking about on to each panel. Joined NHS Providers (then the Foundation Trust Network) in September 2012 as chief executive following a career spanning the public, private and voluntary sectors. Hopson this week questioned the government’s contract-tracing app trial on the Isle of Wight, saying ‘there is no real detail as yet, on how this will actually work and how the NHS will be involved. For example, what role will 111, GPs and pharmacies – the first NHS point of contact for most patients – play?’. Tweeted last week: ‘Just done interviews for @BBCBreakfast and @bbc5live. I always love being interviewed by the great @NickyAACampbell because he gives you the space to explain what’s really going on. And he asks very good open questions. Thanks very much Nicky!’. Which is quite sweet, really.
Who? Writer, broadcaster and former barrister
Born in Norway to a British father and Ghanaian mother, Hirsch is a former social affairs and education editor at Sky News. Wrote in the Guardian today that ‘it must be painful to be racist right now. Knowing that if you become sick, a black or brown person is highly likely to be involved in the hard, dangerous service of trying to save you. Knowing that if you need to get to work, a black or brown person is disproportionately likely to be involved in getting you there via bus, train or cab. Knowing that if you eat fresh food, migrant workers are having to be flown into the country to pick it because there aren’t enough British workers willing to do it.’ The author of the book Brit(ish): On Race, Identity and Belonging, Hirsch caused a few ripples in 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 10.45pm tonight (11.25pm in Northern Ireland)