11/01/2019 10:54 GMT | Updated 11/01/2019 11:57 GMT

BBC Question Time: 5 Times Fiona Bruce's Debut Utterly Skewered Pretty Much Everyone

"Fiona Bruce is destroying everyone and I love it."

On Tuesday Fiona Bruce said she was expecting viewers to wonder “who the hell” she was, as she took over as the host of Question Time, the BBC’s flagship political discussion programme. 

But it’s safe to say that won’t be an issue for her second appearance next week. The news broadcaster and Antiques Roadshow presenter was praised by viewers from across the political divide, a feat almost unheard of since the days before the EU referendum.

Inevitably, Brexit was the primary topic of discussion on the first show, and Bruce was praised for pressing guests on Theresa May’s exit deal, the Conservative Brexit strategy, and alleged Labour electioneering.

Two guests in particular took a bit of a bruising – Labour’s Emily Thornberry and Tory MP James Cleverly.

One impressed viewer welcomed the robust and insistent style of the new presenter, saying: “Fiona Bruce is destroying everyone and I love it.”

Here are five highlights for viewers, but quite possibly low points for the Tory and Labour press teams.

1) Emily Thornberry gets laughed at by the audience

First up is this brief yet brutal exchange between Bruce and Thornberry.

THORNBERRY: “The government is failing on Brexit. We are the alternative and we give hope.”

BRUCE: “Just look at the reaction you’re getting Emily, people are laughing as you say it.”

Ouch – here it is so you can relive it at your own leisure.

2) James Cleverly completely fails to explain Plan B

Within the first few minutes of the show, Bruce asserted her authority, firmly questioning Conservative deputy chairman James Cleverly over the government’s apparent lack of control over the Brexit process. 

CLEVERLY: “I think the plan B, from my personal…I think what should happen is that MPs who think there is some miraculous better choice, some unicorn option that Emily [Thornberry] has put forward, the idea that Jeremy Corbyn …”

BRUCE: “No, no. We’re not going on about that. What is your plan B?”

CLEVERLY: “I’m explaining.”

BRUCE: “OK. Then I’m just going to wait.”

CLEVERLY: “The…er, the idea that they can magic up some alternative plan is not an option.”

BRUCE: “Hang on, you just said you had a plan B. You haven’t got a plan B?”

CLEVERLY: “Delaying to have a second referendum is not an option.”

NISH KUMAR: “Well what’s the plan, dude?”

CLEVERLY: “Our plan is on the table.”

BRUCE: “I just asked you what is your plan B? You said: ‘I’m going to tell you what plan B is.’ Have I missed it, folks?”

CLEVERLY: “Our plan is to deliver the agreement that’s been negotiated with 27…”


3) The audience member with no time for Theresa May

In terms of online reaction, the undoubted highlight of the show was an audience member’s lengthy monologue on the PM’s handling of Brexit.

When given a turn to give her opinion on Brexit, the woman said: “Two things – firstly can we get over feeling sorry for Theresa May?”

To which Bruce asked: “Do you never feel sorry for her?”

Then she let rip...

“She’s the woman who for many many years has led the hostile environment in this country which resulted in the Windrush generation [scandal] and it’s a disgrace.

“She triggered Article 50 when she had no plan. And as for criticising the EU for this, there are 27 other countries in the EU and they have been completely united on this and we do not even have a cabinet that can unite and we definitely have a government who isn’t in control of the process.

“It is ridiculous for us with our hopeless government who cannot get it together to work out what the will of the people is today in 2019, to blame the EU and go round feeling sorry for Theresa May.”


4) James Cleverly gets shut down. Again

If Bruce made one thing clear about her fledgling tenure as Question Time host, it’s that she will not put up with any waffling whatsoever.

Interrupting Cleverly during the show, she simply said: “James, occasionally you have to stop speaking.”


5) Emily Thornberry adds ‘exasperated groans’ to her audience reaction repertoire 

Bruce robustly questioned the shadow foreign secretary, particularly on Labour’s repeated demand for a general election. Jeremy Corbyn has insisted there must be a fresh vote at “the earliest opportunity”.

During one segment, Cleverly, said: “The gentleman there has absolutely hit the nail on the head. The Labour Party has been saying basically for months that whatever deal comes back they are going to vote against it in order to trigger a general election.

“It is literally what you just said.”

After Bruce asked if Labour would “immediately” call a no-confidence vote in the government if the PM loses her deal, Thornberry replied: “We will go for a vote of no confidence, of course, we will, and it will be for Jeremy Corbyn to decide when we have that.”