Party leaders given tough grilling by Sheffield audience in BBC Question Time Leaders Special

Party leaders got a tough grilling from the Sheffield audience during the BBC Question Time Leaders Special.

Friday, 22nd November 2019, 10:24 pm

Jeremy Corbyn, Nicola Sturgeon, Jo Swinson and Boris Johnson were all put under the spotlight during the live show held at the University of Sheffield’s Octagon Centre and hosted by Fiona Bruce last night.

The Labour leader, Mr Corbyn, was quizzed over fears for business and allegations of anti-Semitism and misogyny, among other matters.

He revealed for the first time that should he become Prime Minister he would adopt a neutral stance in another Brexit referendum, after negotiating a new deal with the EU, so he could ‘credibly carry out the results’ of that second vote.

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Boris Johnson on stage during the BBC Question Time Leaders Special in Sheffield. Photo by Jeff Overs/PA Wire

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He insisted businesses ‘should not be frightened’ of a Labour government, saying only the biggest would be ‘asked to pay a little more’ in corporation tax.

The SNP leader, Ms Sturgeon, said she could ‘not in good conscience’ put Mr Johnson into Number 10 but would support a Labour minority government if certain conditions – including another referendum on Scottish independence – were met.

The Liberal Democrat leader, Ms Swinson, faced tough questions over her voting record on austerity during the coalition with the Tories, as well as the party’s pledge to cancel Brexit without another referendum should it win power outright.

Fiona Bruce hosts the BBC Question Time Leaders Special show in Sheffield. Photo by Jeff Overs/PA Wire

“I don't think you can accuse us of not being upfront about wanting to stop Brexit,” she said.

The Conservative leader, Mr Johnson, was quizzed over his party’s record on the NHS, school funding and whether it could be trusted, among other issues.

One man told how he was a leader at a secondary school in Stannington and asked Mr Johnson ‘how can you justify that 40 per cent of the children in my community are living in poverty’.

Mr Johnson responded by saying that he had only been Prime Minister for about 100 days, despite his party having held power for nine years, and claimed he was ‘levelling up the funding for education across the country, putting more money into both primary and secondary schools’.

Security outside the venue for the BBC Question Time Leaders Special show in Sheffield (pic: Scott Merrylees)

There was a huge security operation around the venue, outside which Extinction Rebellion protesters gathered to highlight the climate crisis.