Snap verdict on who won BBC Question Time leaders’ special – Today News
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Snap verdict on who won BBC Question Time leaders’ special – Today News


 Whatever sins you have committed you must hope that they were not so bad that you will be forced to account for yourself in front of the Question Time audience  This was the political equivalent of a comedian having to appear at the Glasgow Empire – the crowd started as icy and then turned down the thermostat  Not one of the four leaders left this bear pit unscathed.  It was not so much a question of who won but who survived   Of the two leaders who could be the next Prime Minister neither Boris Johnson nor Jeremy Corbyn had an easy ride   The Labour leader looked distinctly uncomfortable when challenged on anti-semitism in his party and struggled to explain why nationalising broadband was a good use of public money  In his favour, he came prepared with answer on how he would vote in a second referendum after failing nine times to answer the question earlier this week  His announcement that he would adopt an “neutral” stance bought him some respite   It will remain to be seen whether this will convince voters on polling day at a time when many people’s political identity is defined by their stance on Brexit rather than traditional party allegiances  Corbyn was calm and measured in his responses.  He only really came to life in the last two minutes when, speaking against the clock, he made an impassioned case for why people should vote Labour  At least the Labour was not booed the moment he walked on.  That honour was reserved for Johnson, a Tory leader who supposedly appeals to voters other Conservatives cannot reach  The audience’s razor-sharp ability to spot a politician’s weaknesses was apparent in the first question to Johnson when he was asked why voters should trust him  They also saw through the Prime Minister’s attempt to pretend he was not responsible for the last nine years of Conservative rule  When pressured repeatedly on the NHS he resorted to talking about his record as Mayor of London  When he fell back on his “get Brexit done” soundbite there were groans. His shiftiness on his unpleasant use of language, including slurs against gays and Muslims, was quickly picked up on  Jo Swinson will be the most disappointed. This was her moment to show she was a credible alternative to Johnson or Corbyn  The audience was merciless.  To her dismay she was attacked by a Remain voter and a Leave voter and then by a Conservative voter and Labour voter  She seemed incapable of pleasing anyone. In a particularly excruciating moment she offered an apology for her time in Coalition  “We got stuff wrong. In the future we are going to get it right,” she said before pausing for an applause which never came  Only Nicola Sturgeon appeared capable of handling this crowd. The Scottish First Minister is the longest serving party leader and it showed  In the end we learned that all four leaders are deeply divisive.  The one who most likes to be liked, Johnson, found out the hard way that his appeal may be more limited than he realised  He will be praying the audience was not representative of the country.

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