Question Time to see Brexit clash as Wetherspoon boss Tim Martin faces Labour and Lib Dems

Posted on Jun 20 2019 - 9:09pm by admin

All eyes will be on the BBC tonight after it found itself fending off allegations of Remainer bias following the Tory leadership debate on Tuesday. It emerged imam Abdullah Patel, who quizzed contenders about Islamophobia, had posted anti-Semitic messages on Twitter, prompting questions about why he had been allowed on the programme. It appears the corporation is trying to avoid the Tory leadership battle, with the panel for tonight featuring Mr Martin, Mr Kwarteng, plus Tory MP and Minister for Digital and Creative Industries Margot James, Liberal Democrat Ed Davey, and Labour’s Laura Pidcock.

Mr Martin, 64, a veteran Leave campaigner as well as the founder of JD Wetherspoon, spoke to last week, warning Tory frontrunner Boris Johnson against further attempts to negotiate with Brussels.

He said: “I’ve met Boris a couple of times and he seems a nice enough bloke.

“But if he even dreams of going to Brussels to renegotiate this deal he better wake up and apologise.”

Spelthorne MP Mr Kwarteng, 44, meanwhile, who campaigned to leave the EU in the 2016 referendum, is a staunch ally of Mr Johnson.

He told Newsnight earlier this month: “In a negotiation it’s not necessary to like the opposing team.

“In fact, I would argue that it would be not very effective to have people around the table who are friends.

“I think that’s probably one of the problems we’ve had in the last two years.

“I think they regard him as a formidable political opponent.”

Pressed earlier this week about Mr Johnson’s past remarks about “piccaninnies” and “watermelon smiles” in a column written for the Daily Telegraph in 2002, Mr Kwarteng said: “To say he is racist is scurrilous, offensive and completely wrong.”

Coventry-born Ms James, 61, who has been in her current job since the start of the year, was elected to Parliament as MP for Stourbridge in 2010.

A member of the Conservative Party since the age of 17, she backed Remain in the 2016 referendum, and Rory Stewart as leader prior to his elimination from the contest yesterday.

Mr Davey, 53, the Lib Dems’ Home Affairs spokesman, has been an MP since 1997, first for Surbiton, and since 2017 for the newly established constituency of Richmond and Surbiton.

Ms Pidcock, MP for West Durham, was elected in 2017.

The 31-year-old shadow Labour Minister is on the left of the party and a strong supporter of leader Jeremy Corbyn.

She courted controversy earlier this year when she said she “could never be friends with a Tory”.

Question Time, hosted by Fiona Bruce, is being broadcast from Tottenham in north London tonight on BBC One at 10.35pm.

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