Always Worth Saying’s Question Time Review

Question Time Brexit Special 22nd June 2023

The Panel:

John Redwood (Conservative)
Jenny Chapman (Labour)
Ben Habib (Businessman)
Prof Anand Menon (UK in a Changing Europe)
Alastair Campbell (Former No 10 Press Secretary)

Venue: Clacton-on-Sea

Seven years since we voted to leave the EU, Fiona Bruce introduced a QT Brexit special before a Brexit voting audience in Claction – the second most popular Leave constituency in the referendum. Boston in Lincolnshire was the most popular. Why didn’t the BBC go there? Presumably because they have to leave, for however briefly, their beloved South East.

Or not. At the start of the programme, La Bruce explained the Brexit voter audience had been diluted to 70:30 Brexit/Remain.

Question one. Is the cost of living crisis because of Brexit?

Not at all, began John Redwood (Conservative). The cost of living is a problem across Europe and is caused by central banks supplying too much money and credit.

My pupil, Mr A.I. Bot, informs me of the following. “John Redwood, born on 15 June 1951, is a distinguished British politician. He is a member.”


Given a second chance and reminded of the libel laws, Mr Bot expanded himself to: He is a member of the Conservative Party and has been MP for Wokingham in Berkshire since 1987. He served as the Secretary of State for Wales during the Major government and in the Shadow Cabinets of William Hague and Michael Howard.

Redwood is known for his strong Eurosceptic views and was a fervent supporter of Brexit during the 2016 EU referendum. He is a member of the British Eurosceptic pressure group, Leave Means Leave. He was also the co-chairman of the Conservative Party’s Policy Review Group on Economic Competitiveness until 2010.

Though he has had a varied political career, including being initially opposed to same-sex marriage and in favour of the reintroduction of capital punishment, he has since stated that he no longer supports these policies.

Perhaps Mr Bot was right the first time?

The ludicrous Baroness Chapman of Darlington (Labour) disagreed. Baroness Jenny decided it was because of the chaotic Tories and licked her lips at the electoral prospect of householders having to pay an extra £3,000 (her unchallenged calculation) on rate-rise mortgage payments.

Anand (academic) said the cost of living isn’t driven by Brexit and mentioned the war in the Ukraine. He then said the exact opposite and blamed the falling pound since Brexit while forgetting to reference the effect on the currency of Mark Carney’s unnecessary Bank of England interest rate cuts.

Professor Anand Menon, one of the West Yorkshire Menons, is a distinguished academic specializing in European Politics and Foreign Affairs. After leaving Wakefield Grammar School, Mr Menon attended Oxford University – for nine years.

Upon leaving Oxford he, erm, stayed at Oxford and lectured at St Anthony’s College for six years.

He currently holds a professorship at King’s College London where he spearheads the UK in a Changing Europe initiative, a respected think tank that is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council.

Before joining King’s College and after eventually leaving Oxford, although not quite a European himself, he served as a Professor of West European Politics and was the founding Director of the European Research Institute at the University of Birmingham.

In other words, not only has he never had a job, he’s never even left school, and, as if a perpetual sixth former, wears a gold earring.

According to documents lodged at Companies House, the 47-year-old is a director of the Political Quarterly Publishing Company, the perhaps misleading Full Fact and the pompous Menon Advisory Ltd.

A prolific writer, Anand has published numerous works on European politics. Additionally, he is a frequent contributor to popular publications such as the Financial Times, London Review of Books, and Prospect. Although his work generally sheds light on the complexities of European politics, Anand, and this isn’t a joke, I’ll include the link, also contributes to Tortoise Quarterly.

Trigger warning. In the linked article, straying way off topic, Anand omits to mention shells and lettuce leaves, but rather tells of a series of family sadnesses culminating in a previous appearance on Question Time.

Alastair Campbell (former No 10 press secretary) informed the audience they’d been ‘lied’ to. He then rhymed off a list of contentious and unchallenged anti-Brexit claims.

He’d been to a school earlier in the day and claimed all but two of the children were Remainers.

Boris Johnson never believed in Brexit, he continued, and led the Leave campaign to further his career. Hmm. I wonder if Alastair Campbell ever believed in Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction? Or was he just furthering his career as a lickspittle to the unindicted war criminal that is Anthony Charles Lynton Blair?

Alastair John Campbell is a British journalist, author, strategist, and activist, most known for his significant political roles during Tony Blair’s leadership of the Labour Party.

Born in Keighley in 1957, the son of a veterinary surgeon, he attended grammar schools in Bradford and Leicester before going up to Oxford to study modern languages at Gonville and Caius.

After college, Campbell became a trainee with the Mirror Group during which time he honed his skills at the Tavistock Times, the Plymouth-based Sunday Independent and the Daily Mirror where he rose to be a political correspondent.

His time in Fleet Street coincided with depression and alcohol abuse. In 1986, the committed socialist was arrested and committed to (a private) hospital after suffering a nervous breakdown.

By 1994, Mr Campbell had become Leader of the Opposition Tony Blair’s press secretary and subsequently Prime Minister Blair’s official spokesman and Downing Street Director of Communications and Strategy. In these positions, he was instrumental in the dissemination of a dodgy dossier partly responsible for the illegal invasion of Iraq in March 2003.

The 66-year-old also participated in a sequence of events that led to the death of Iraq weapons of mass destruction whistleblower Dr David Kelly in July of the same year.

Campbell has authored 17 books in the last 14 years, shedding light on his struggles with depression, psychosis, and addiction. As an ambassador for mental health charities, he co-founded the all-party campaign Equality4MentalHealth.

A beyond redemption Remainer, these days he exercises his psychosis as an editor at large of The New European and produces a Brexit derangement syndrome-themed podcast with pro-Brussels establishment odd-ball Rory Stewart.

Outside of the UK, Campbell has served as an advisor to various governments and political parties, including the Prime Minister of Albania. Honest Edi Rama turned to Campbell in 2014 to re-brand the Eastern European country away from its reputation for crime and corruption. Money well spent, not.

Ben Habib (businessman) contradicted Campbell and informed us trade with the EU has increased. The problem is we haven’t properly Brexited.

Anand looked for a big cloud to attach to the trade silver lining. He claimed trade was better than expected but would have been better-better than expected if we’d stayed in. Ah.

A lady in the audience wasn’t bothered about talk of lies as she had voted to Leave because of sovereignty.

In response to question two, regarding Brexit dividends, Alaistair Campbell squatted on the self-pity potty chanting lies, lies, lies, lies, lies, lies, lies. Blair’s puppet called Leave campaign manager, Dominic Cummings, Boris’ puppet.

We haven’t seen the Brexit dividends because we have Brexited, responded Ben Habib. We’re still stuck with EU agreements such as Net Zero which is in the Trade and Cooperation agreement.

As if one of the Warwickshire Habibs, Benyamin Naeem Habib was educated privately at the £39,000 per annum Rugby school before attending Robinson College, Cambridge.

The 58-year-old gained political recognition after being elected as a Brexit Party Member of the European Parliament in the 2019 parliamentary election.

In his term, he served on the Committee for Economic and Monetary Affairs and was part of the delegation for relations with South Asian countries.

Beyond his political career, Karachi-born Ben is also the CEO of First Property Group, a company specializing in commercial property investment and fund management. That interesting life in property, including mention of his 124 directorships, is detailed in a previous edition of QT Review available here.

As an ardent supporter of Brexit, Habib believed that the UK would have better trade opportunities outside of the European Union. He has voted in favour of the Brexit withdrawal agreement and has been part of a legal challenge against the Northern Ireland Protocol.

A man in the audience said the big lie was the establishment’s expectation that Remain was bound to win. Then three years of establishment delay ended by the 2019 general election, followed by the progress-sapping covid pandemic and the war in the Ukraine

Another audience member addressed Alastair Campbell and reminded him that as a voter he had been lied to by politicians for the whole of his life.

John Redwood could see some dividends. There’s big spending in the EU which we don’t have to contribute to. As for the £350m on the side of the bus, the NHS is getting more than that already. Trade deals? The Trans-Pacific Trade Partnership which we have just joined and its five hundred million consumers.

Jenny bashed the Tories, including giving peerages to their mates. Who gave you your peerage, Jenny? One of your enemies?

On her Twitter profile, Baroness Chapman of Darlington self describes as a ‘Darlo mum’ – despite coming from Surrey! A graduate of Brunel University (BSc psychology) and Durham University (MA archaeology), Puffins will be unsurprised to hear that the baroness has never had a job. After constituency office management and multiple maternity leaves, Jennifer was a councillor on Darlington Borough Council before being elected to parliament as MP for Darlington in 2010.

There, she served for nine years before, despite being Shadow Minister for Exiting the European Union, being removed by the voters in Boris Johnson’s ‘Get Brexit Done’ Red Wall 2019 general election. Elevated to the House of Lords by Keir Starmer a year later, Baroness Jennifer is currently Shadow Minister of State at the Cabinet Office where she sits opposite the criminally under-used Lord Frost.

Anand said our service industries have done well but decided this was ‘ironic’ rather than a tremendous success for Brexit. He then showed his ignorance by stating services are part of the single market when they aren’t. Challenged by Ben Habib, Anand’s response was, “Let’s move on.” What a fraud.

Question three was about immigration. Penny began with a lie, saying she is from the North East whereas she is from Surrey.

It’s out of control said a tinged woman with a foreign accent. We thought it would be lower. Remember ‘take back control?’

Ben Habib described a fundamental failure of successive governments to make the most of the British workforce. Immigration is an easy fix. He then talked rubbish by saying unemployment is at a record low. Ben, it’s higher this month than last month never mind in previous decades.

He redeemed himself by suggesting labour shortages could be filled by those claiming Universal Credit.

Anand Menon appeared to be in favour of mass, uncontrolled, unlimited immigration and declared on your behalf that ‘we’ need them here.

Bizarrely, Alaistair Campbell claimed record net immigration is caused by emigration. People leaving, because of Brexit obviously, had to be replaced by far larger numbers of people to take their place. It made no sense at all.

The next question was a clever one. What will the parties’ Brexit policies be as we approach the election?

Jenny wanted to make Brexit work. The Labour Party will not have another referendum, rejoin the EU or take us back into the single market or customs union. She apologised to Alastair Campbell. There were holes to be fixed. Like the veterinary agreement. Apparently.

John was keen on intelligent farming and fishing, developing domestic energy, and … he kept on going. He had lots of good ideas. No wonder the Tories keep him out of the Cabinet.

Anand wanted to talk about trade-offs, appearing to think EU red tape was some kind of inevitability rather than avoidable protectionism.

Meanwhile, still on the pity potty, Alaistair complained that there wasn’t a government minister on the programme. He then ended the show as aptly as he could. He told a lie. He said he’d been expelled from the Labour Party for being too extreme about Brexit. Not so. He was expelled for encouraging the electorate to vote LibDem.

© Always Worth Saying 2023

The Goodnight Vienna Audio file