The prospect of the EU referendum campaign being dominated by high-minded debate got off to a troubled start as the BBC’s flagship political show discussed cake.
At the same time as David Cameron continued his attempt to get a new deal for Britain at the crunch summit in Brussels, Question Time witnessed some of the exchanges that are likely to dominate between now and the in-out vote likely in June.
And the panel was tempted to comment on remarks made earlier in the week by actress Emma Thompson, labelling the UK “a cake-filled misery-laden grey old island” and signalling it is better to stay in the bloc.
On the show, broadcaster June Sarpong, a spokeswoman for the Stronger in Europe campaign, offered a curious response.
“I see Britain as a fantastic Victoria sponge,” the former T4 presenter said. “The one thing I am slightly anti-EU on is - as a pro-EU campaigner - I see far too many French tarts in our bakeries. Tatins.”
The former T4 presenter and spokeswoman for the Stronger in Europe campaign
Make of that as you will.
Oh no. Oh it gets worse. Someone has given June Sarpong a lame French tart joke to make in responde to the cake. This is so bad. #BBCQT
— Kate McCann (@KateEMcCann) February 18, 2016
June Sarpong says the one reason she's Eurosceptic is she doesn't like French pastries. Depressing that our EU debate is so debased #bbcqt
— Joe Willis (@_JoeWillis) February 18, 2016
Thompson, who said it would be “madness” to leave the EU, was defended by another panellist, Scottish National Party MP, John Nicolson.
He said: “She’s in the public eye and you sometimes get these very po-faced journalists - of which I used to be one - who then listen to what she says, make a big banner headline and blow it out of all proportion.
“I suspect she regrets saying it. Is it the worst thing she can say? I doubt it.”
He then added, returning to an earlier theme: “She seems very English to me, proud of being English, and I wish she would lead a campaign - as we are talking about cake names - to revert from cupcakes to good old-fashioned fairy cakes. What is wrong with a fairy?”
In a show where where little light was shed on topics including the referendum as well as grammar schools and Donald Trump, the call got one of the biggest cheers of the night.
One of the worst ever @bbcquestiontime and that is saying something. Beyond dire tonight.
— Iain Martin (@iainmartin1) February 18, 2016