UK Politics

What Question Time made of Brexit vote defeat

Isabel Oakeshott, Robert Winston, Rebecca Long-Bailey, David Dimbleby, Nicky Morgan and Geoff Norcott

The last Question Time of the year saw Conservative Nicky Morgan and Labour's Rebecca Long-Bailey joined on the panel by Professor Robert Winston, comedian Geoff Norcott and journalist Isabel Oakeshott in Barnsley. So what happened?

Coming the day after Theresa May's first Commons defeat as prime minister on a key Brexit vote, it came as no surprise that the first question of the night was about whether "some MPs" were "trying to subvert the will of the British people" on Brexit.

The lengthy exchanges over the significance of Wednesday's vote - which demanded MPs get a legal guarantee that they will get a vote on any Brexit deal - went on to dominate much of the programme.

Ms Morgan, one of the Conservative rebels, and Labour's Ms Long-Bailey both found themselves on the receiving end of barracking from some members of the audience.

Ms Morgan said there had to be a proper debate about the "divisive" subject of Brexit. She set out her position:

But journalist Isabel Oakeshott, a Brexit supporter, said she had "humiliated" the prime minister and undermined her negotiating position.

Ms Long-Bailey - whose party joined with Tory rebels to vote against the government on Wednesday - said the government's handling of Brexit had been "shambolic" and she was refusing to give them a "blank cheque".

But they were accused of political naivety, of increasing the prospect of a "no deal" Brexit and of weakening the hands of the UK's Brexit negotiators by some in the audience. Ms Morgan pointed out that the European Parliament will also have a vote. "You are killing it by committee," an audience member said.

Others were more supportive and said MP should get a vote: "That's why we elect people."

'We are leaving'

Prof Robert Winston said the rebels had ensured "the sovereignty of the British Parliament" with the vote.

But Labour's Ms Long-Bailey got an earful from a man who accused the party of betraying the working class by supporting the single market. She replied that the party wants similar benefits to the single market, without remaining in it.

Host David Dimbleby asked Professor Robert Winston whether he believes the vote was the beginning of a movement that may lead to the UK not leaving the EU - and notes he does not say "no". The scientist replied: "It could just possibly but I think it's very very unlikely."

Tory rebel Ms Morgan said not: "It's going to happen, we are going to leave the European Union," she told the audience.

But comedian Geoff Norcott said it was "the death of Brexit by 1,000 amendments" and Isabel Oakshott claimed that powerful "vested interests" would "stop at nothing" to keep the UK in the EU. She quoted former Labour minister Lord Adonis who tweeted after the vote: "First step towards defeat of Brexit."

So is it a way to "see off" Brexit? No, said Rebecca Long-Bailey - but it puts pressure on the PM to listen to concerns and "deliver the best deal possible": "Nobody wants to vote against a deal and nobody that I have spoken to... the vast majority don't want no deal," she said.

Oh, and one other thing. David Dimbleby may be on the next series of Love Island...

Related Topics