5 talking points from Warrington’s BBC Question Time

Five talking Points from Warrington’s BBC Question Time <i>(Image: Newsquest)</i>
Five talking Points from Warrington’s BBC Question Time (Image: Newsquest)

QUESTION Time Returned to Warrington last night, with the Fiona Bruce-led show appearing at Parr Hall.

The panel featured Bim Afolami of the Conservative party, Lucy Powell of Labour, Stephen Flynn, the Westminster Leader for the SNP, journalist Anne McElvoy, and Tesco boss John Allan.

The Budget

Lucy Powell, who is the Shadow Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport, was critical of Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s announcement of the budget on Tuesday.

The MP for Manchester Central said that it was “divorced from reality” and questioned the decision to lower tax on pensions over £1 million.

She then pointed out that, the reality for many of the people in the Warrington audience is that they would see no benefit from this, and actually pay a higher rate of tax than the 1% this cut benefited.


HS2 was a topic of discussion throughout the programme, with Conservative MP Bim Afolami contending that HS2 shouldn’t be abandoned, but admitting that there had been problems throughout the building process.

Afolami also pointed out that, whilst Labour has been critical of HS2, it is something the last Labour government were in support of.

John Allan, however, questioned whether construction was likely to start up again – with rising costs a clear and present issue for construction of the high speed rail intended to connect the north and south.

Stumbles and missteps

After being challenged on HS2 by Fiona Bruce, with the host pointing out how long the government have had to complete HS2, Bim Afolami stuttered, with Fiona Bruce quick to jump and mock the Conservative politician. This led to the Parr Hall crowd erupting into laughter, and Stephen Flynn encouraging Afolami to “put the spade down”.

This is not the first misstep in recent years for Afolami, with the MP for Hitchin and Harpenden, after footage was released of him joking about the positive outcome of Covid-19 on levelling up, joking that “it was all a cunning plan.”

Energy Bills

Stephen Flynn was even more vociferously critical of Jeremy Hunt’s budget than Lucy Powell, calling it a “complete and utter let-down”.

One aspect the Westminster SNP leader focused on in particular was the lack of support on the issue of rapidly rising energy bills.

Flynn went on to say that the budget had in actual fact “stealthily taken away £400 from the rebate scheme.”

The Next Election

The next election was a topic that came up frequently, with Stephen Flynn continuing his answer on the budget by saying he “cannot wait for [the Conservatives] to get stuffed at the next General Election.”

Anne McElvoy meanwhile, suggested that she did not feel that Labour were as set for a majority win as many believe them to be. McElvoy said that she “suspects Labour are probably feeling a bit less confident than they were a couple months ago.

“On paper Labour is winning but psychologically, it doesn’t feel it quite believes that.”

According to Politico, Labour is currently polling at 47%, 20% above the Conservatives.

John Allan was critical of both parties, however stated that he was likely to vote Labour in the next election.