UK

BBC Question Time Audience Member Uses Pret Coffee To Justify Brexit Bill Amendment

Will someone please think of the flat whites.

03/03/2017 07:40 GMT | Updated 03/03/2017 10:18 GMT

A member of the BBC Question Time audience was roundly booed and mocked last night after suggesting one of the worst consequences of leaving the EU could be the lack of people to serve her coffee in Pret a Manger.

During a section discussing the recent House of Lords vote to give EU citizens living in the UK guaranteed rights to stay under Brexit, Lord Chancellor Liz Truss and Lord Menzies Campbell, sparred over the outcome.

Host David Dimbleby then turned to “the woman in orange” in the audience for her take on the matter.

She said: “I think it’s appalling that people could even consider making people who live in this country, who have made it their home, to send them back.

“What about the teachers we have? If we’re going to have teachers teaching French and Spanish to our kids, I’d rather they were French and Spanish people than English people.

Dimbleby replied: “But Liz Truss said they are going to be allowed to stay.” 

She said: “You don’t know that. For everybody else here who works in London, who would be serving us our coffee in Pret? Who would be serving us our sandwiches?

“You’re not going to get English people to take those jobs.”

Whilst well-intentioned, her choice of words prompted a disapproving mumble rustled through the audience and Twitter exploded.

Although she did have at least one supporter.

Despite the backlash, the “woman in orange” may have a point. There are 2.24 million non-UK nationals from the EU working in Britain.

Of these, around 13% (291,000) are employed in the hospitality industry out of a total of around 3 million, a sizeable chunk.

Another audience member grabbed the spotlight on last night’s episode after sympathising with Lord Tebbit’s recent comments about “foreigners”.

“You want to listen to Mr Tebbit,” he said twice. “What did he say?”

Campbell: “He called them foreigners.”

Audience member: “What’s wrong with that?”

Watch the clip here.

Thursday night’s debate came from Bedford with panelists Liz Truss, Dawn Butler, Menzies Campbell, Peter Hitchens and Jamie MacColl.

With the future of three million EU nationals still uncertain, a cross-party coalition of peers voted by 358 to 256 to defeat the Government by backing a Labour amendment to the Brexit Bill going through the House of Lords.

The amendment grants unilateral rights to both citizens of the EU and the European Economic Area (EEA) once the UK has quit the 27-nation bloc in 2019. 

It was the first Brexit Bill defeat for Theresa May despite warnings from the Government not to delay triggering Article 50, which begins formal talks of up to two years to quit the EU. May even eyeballed peers on the first day of debating.

The Government could still kill the amendment when the Bill returns to the House of Commons as part of parliamentary ‘ping-pong’, with Government sources already indicating it will seek to overturn the defeat.