Who is on the BBC Question Time panel tonight?

PUBLISHED: 00:00 23 January 2020 | UPDATED: 05:46 23 January 2020

Fiona Bruce, presenter of the BBC's Question Time

Fiona Bruce, presenter of the BBC's Question Time

BBC

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

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The BBC's flagship current affairs programme tonight comes from Stoke Newington - the bohemian London village which was home to Eric "The Crafty Cockney" Bristow. But who will polish off the political equivalent of a nine-dart finish - and who will get stuck in the madhouse? Here's your complete guide to the panel...

Theresa Villiers

Who? Environment Secretary

Dead-eyed former Northern Ireland secretary who showed how much she learned during her four (!) years in office when she dismissed fears over the border in a no-deal Brexit by saying: "There is no reason why we have to change our border arrangements in the event of a Brexit, because they've been broadly consistent in the 100 years since the creation of Ireland as a separate state." Quit after being offered a lesser post by Theresa May, was rehabilitated by Boris Johnson, who brought her back into Cabinet as environment secretary, and now suffers the ignominy of opening the Sunday papers each week to read well-briefed reports that she's one of the plodders facing the axe when Johnson shuffles his pack next month. A foe of "an elite establishment who doesn't like the answer they were given the first time", Villiers is a direct descendant of Edward II.

Emily Thornberry

Who? Shadow foreign secretary

At the time of writing still - just about - a candidate for the Labour leadership, Thornberry won few plaudits among Remainers for initially 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." Later became a firm backer of a second referendum and Remain, saying Labour would be "off our bloody rockers" not to back it. A constituency neighbour of Jeremy Corbyn, they were close allies and Thornberry was his de facto PMQs deputy until her Brexit stance displeased him and he decided Rebecca Long Bailey/Long-Bailey was his new bestie instead. Probably Parliament's most accomplished performer of the theatrical eye-roll, she can expect a demotion whoever eventually takes the Labour crown.

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Mike Barton

Who? Former chief constable of Durham Constabulary

Maverick former Durham chief described as thus in an Economist profile last year: "The bulky, bald Lancastrian... rules Durham Constabulary in idiosyncratic style. He burps and swears - a lot - in meetings. Once, he set his annual plan to music." Well, quite. Retired last year after more than seven years in charge. In office he advocated the legalisation of cannabis, supported giving heroin to addicts and argued criminals needed to be helped rather than punished, but played down any Stoke Newington-friendly credentials in an interview with the Telegraph, saying: "I don't want anyone to think I am a trendy, pinko liberal, I'm a straight-forward northern bloke." Argued that cuts forced him to reshape the force and chop unmotivated cops, claiming "austerity has been the best thing that's happened to Durham Constabulary in its 179-year history".

Trevor Phillips

Who? Writer, broadcaster and former chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC)

A former member of the board of official pro-EU campaign Britain Stronger in Europe, Phillips went on to write a book, Brexit: Why Britain Voted To Leave the European Union, which claimed voters felt talked down to by politicians. Says: "Whatever we said to ourselves we were thinking, we contrived with every single breath by virtually every single spokesperson for Remain to imply that we thought, as David Cameron suggested, that Brexiteers were 'closet racists'." The former Labour London Assembly Member was a controversial chair of the EHRC and remains an irritant to many on the left, just in the past week writing in the Daily Mail that critics of "the media's supposed racism towards Meghan" should "pause, take a breath" as in America "they still settle racial disputes with guns". Which is something, one supposes.

Sarah Baxter

Who? Deputy editor of The Sunday Times

Deputy editor of the letterbox-destroyer since 2013, she previously edited its News Review and Magazine, as well as having a spell as Washington correspondent. A supporter of Boris Johnson leading the Conservative Party, she wrote in September 2018 that "all the insults — that he's lazy, unfaithful, unscrupulous or, God forbid, ambitious — are insufficient to deny Johnson the chance he has earned" and "under Johnson's leadership, Brexit has the potential to be a more enjoyable, dynamic process than under the guaranteed gloom of May's". To be fair, as an Evening Standard columnist back in 1994 she also wrote a certain Tony Blair was "streets ahead of the other candidates" just as the then-as-now MP for Stoke Newington - a Diane Abbott - was arguing: "I think Tony's lack of experience rules him out. He has never done anything except be a backbench MP."

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

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