Who's on the BBC's Question Time tonight?

Fiona Bruce, presenter of the BBC's Question Time

Fiona Bruce, presenter of the BBC's Question Time - Credit: BBC

Question Time tonight features a virtual audience drawn from Northern Ireland. But who's on the panel? Here's your guide...

Brandon Lewis

Who? Northern Ireland secretary

Formerly just a cabinet makeweight most notable for looking more like a neighbour you'd feel confident owned a spare set of jump leads than a senior politician, Lewis wrote his name in history for being the man who said the UK was prepared to break international law "in a very specific and limited way". A Theresa May loyalist who acted as a buffer between the long-forgotten former prime minister and the pro-Brexit grassroots, he quickly transferred his loyalty wholesale to Boris Johnson. Campaigned for Remain in the EU referendum but following the result said he would now vote Leave, describing himself as "first and foremost a democrat". Considered a safe pair of hands by the Tories, i.e. Lewis is very boring.

Louise Haigh


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Who? Shadow Northern Ireland secretary

MP for Sheffield Heeley who replaced Tony Lloyd in the Northern Ireland brief last year when he fell ill, Haigh announced last week that Labour was to launch a programme to educate its 500,000 members about the history of the Good Friday agreement. She told the Guardian: "We want to highlight Labour’s special role in delivering that, and the unwavering commitment of Tony Blair to securing and protecting the peace through the entirety of the last Labour government." Which is odd because, as a quick dip into Twitter would tell her, the historic securing of peace in Northern Ireland was solely the achievement of a Mr J Corbyn.

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Arlene Foster

Who? First minister of Northern Ireland

DUP leader who campaigned for Brexit even though a 56% majority in Northern Ireland voted to remain in the EU, Foster is now dealing with the empty supermarket shelves and prospect of prolonged shortages she said would never happen, caused by the new checks on the region’s trade with Britain she said she would never allow. The first minister is now facing sharp recriminations from fellow unionists over Boris Johnson’s imposition of the regulatory border: if only there had been some way in advance of knowing that the prime minister doesn't always keeps the promises he makes to women.

Michelle O'Neill

Who? Deputy first minister of Northern Ireland

Vice president of Sinn Féin who succeeded Martin McGuinness as deputy first minister a year ago, which makes it all the more curious that her Wikipedia entry is less than half the length of that of dimly-remembered 1980s children's TV show Bertha. Tweeted yesterday, sharing an article by chancellor turned local freesheet editor George Osborne saying Northern Ireland could leave the UK, that: "The choice is clear. An inward looking Brexit Britain or an open and inclusive Ireland for all of us who share this island. Now is the time to plan for change." At the time time the Belfast Newsletter was reporting that Northern Ireland could run out of Bisto. 

Anand Menon

Who? Professor of European politics and foreign affairs at King's College London

Media-friendly Brexit expert dubbed "the rock star prof" (he has an earring and told The New European last year that "this life suits me, because I've got a big head and I like the sound of my own voice") and this week's token Person Who Might Actually Know What They're Talking About. Director of the UK in a Changing Europe think tank, the go-to body for Brexit analysis over the past few years, he wrote at the weekend that, with the end of transition, the government would have to make choices "with political costs attached" and that "the prime minister won the Brexit war. Keir Starmer may have an opportunity to win the peace".

Question Time is on BBC One at 10.45pm tonight (11.25pm in Northern Ireland)

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