Who won Friday night’s Leaders’ Question Time? On the latest Coffee House Shots podcast, Fraser Nelson, James Forsyth and the New Statesman‘s Stephen Bush tell me it’s Boris Johnson who will be the happiest – despite criticism, he got his key messages across. However, the format – which saw hostile audience member questions for Jeremy Corbyn, Nicola Sturgeon, Jo Swinson and Johnson – proved testing for all sides.
The news line of the night came from Jeremy Corbyn. The Labour leader said that in a second referendum – held by a Labour government – he would remain neutral and campaign neither for Leave nor Remain. James Forsyth describes this as the ‘biggest play’ of the election so far – something that is ‘very risky’ for him as it could isolate both sides of the debate. It ought to provide the Liberal Democrats an opportunity to pitch their party as the clear pro-EU choice.
Yet the party leader Jo Swinson had a torrid time on the BBC election special – with the audience particularly critical of her party’s revoke Article 50 stance. Stephen Bush says time will tell whether this was an unrepresentative audience or Swinson’s campaign is in real trouble. Either way, Fraser Nelson thinks Swinson may regret her inclusion in the event.
The issue of Scottish independence came up in both Corbyn and Nicola Sturgeon’s interview sessions. While Corbyn insisted that he would not allow one in the first two years of a Labour government – one that could be propped up by the SNP – Sturgeon said to the audience that they should not believe Corbyn here as it was one of her key demands. Fraser Nelson says that given that Corbyn has about a three per cent chance of a majority on his own, this matters.
Coffee House Shots is the Spectator’s daily, and these days more than daily, politics podcast. You can subscribe on your podcast provider, or click here to hear more from our team of political correspondents on the latest gossip and analysis from the heart of Westminster.