Who is on the BBC Question Time panel tonight?

PUBLISHED: 00:00 16 January 2020

Question Time presenter Fiona Bruce. Photograph: BBC.

Question Time presenter Fiona Bruce. Photograph: BBC.

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Who is on Question Time tonight? Here's your guide...

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The BBC's flagship current affairs programme tonight comes from Liverpool, hometown of the band widely regarded as the foremost and most influential in music history - the Lightning Seeds. But who will be speaking Sense - and who's living The Life of Riley? Here's your complete guide to the panel...

Helen Whately

Who? Culture minister

Barely a household name in her own household, the MP for Faversham and Kent has been dubbed the 'Tatler Tory' for being the only one of 10 Conservative MPs tipped for the top by the Hooray Henriettas' magazine to make it to and remain in the Commons. A former Remainer, she went on to say of Brexit: "When I get back from Parliament my children are often already fast asleep. I look at them curled up under their duvets and think how we must get this right for them and all the others like them, whose future is in our hands." Seriously. She said that. May be out of a job before long if reports Dominic Cummings plans to scrap the Culture department are correct, what with culture being the exclusive preserve of people who live in Stoke Newington and watch BBC Four and are capable of dressing themselves properly. Whately was criticised by constituents in 2017 for her enthusiastic tweeting from Donald Trump's inauguration in a suspiciously Russian-looking hat.

Shami Chakrabarti

Who? Shadow attorney general

The former director of civil rights group Liberty, she was handed a peerage and role in the shadow cabinet in 2016, coincidentally after penning a report clearing Jeremy Corbyn's party of anti-semitism. Fortunately for Corbyn the report did the trick and the issue of anti-semitism was never heard of again in the Absolute Boy's long and glorious term at the helm of the Labour Party. Chakrabarti campaigned to Remain in the Brexit referendum but later said there no going back and that Labour's priorities were "jobs and the economy" The daughter of Bengali immigrants once called "an anarchist in a barrister's wig" by late lads' mag Loaded, Chakrabarti made her name as a liberal in the noughties but came fully on board with Team Corbyn, who have seen her as a loyal media performer. Has previously said that the next Labour leader "should and probably will" be a woman and may throw her lot in behind ultra-Corbynite Rebecca Long Bailey/Long-Bailey.

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Alyn Smith

Who? SNP Westminster spokesman for international affairs and Europe

Brand shiny new SNP MP for Stirling, elected for the first time in December and instantly handed the international affairs and Europe portfolio having been elected to the European Parliament four times. Firmly pro-European, he has said an independent Scotland could rejoin the EU and is a firm advocate of a second independence referendum, tweeting this week, not entirely unfairly, "Can you imagine the Brexiter reaction if anyone in Brussels had said no, you can't have a referendum? Fair's fair now, let's be serious. Scotland has a right to choose or else the UK cannot possibly be sustained." Has added: "Be in no doubt, Scotland is from now going to look and sound and act and prepare as an applicant state of the European Union." Is, it turns out, quite a tricky person to write a semi-humorous Question Time preview piece about.

Madeline Grant

Who? Assistant comment editor of the Daily Telegraph

"There are many good reasons to avoid Question Time on a Thursday night - from the ranty audience members to the unfunny Corbynista comics and the SNP politicians who somehow manage to link every issue, however tangentially, back to Scottish independence," wrote Grant back in February 2019. Another good reason is the presence of Madeline Grant, Brexiteer rent-a-gob, former editorial manager at opaquely-funded right-wing think tank the Institute of Economic Affairs and now part of the cheerleader team at Boris Johnson fanzine the Telegraph - which ought to go down well in Liverpool, where he is very popular. Has backed calls for Big Ben to sound to mark Brexit as "a simple pleasure that will enrage a minority of hardline Remoaners but which many of us will rather enjoy". Stood to be the Oxford Union librarian while at university in 2012 under the slogan "I don't hack, I just have a great rack".

Laurence Fox

Who? Actor and musician

Actor best known for his role as DS James Hathaway in Lewis from 2006 to 2015, and since then an album, Holding Patterns (two weeks in the chart, peaking at number 89) and a series of interviews where he says what he appears to think are dangerous, subversive things in the manner of a child shouting a rude word in assembly. The Times reported in November that he had "recently decided to walk around his area of south London wearing a hat bearing Donald Trump's campaign slogan, Maga" and, when asked to remove it at a dinner party later that evening, "I said, 'I'm not in a mosque', and I left." Apparently "watches a lot of YouTube videos and has been 'totally radicalised against the woke culture that has stifled diversity of opinion'". Says "If you're in England, be English. Otherwise I don't think we can coexist" and that the campaign to combat climate change is "a vehicle for extreme Marxist ideologies". Will almost certainly have a Telegraph column by the end of the night.

Question Time is on BBC One at 10.35pm tonight (11.15pm in Northern Ireland)

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