Fiona Bruce will one again return to chair and lead the panel through the hottest talking points with calls for the government to do more to stop the ongoing rail strikes, with thousands of railway workers staging strikes this week.
Around 40,000 members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union at Network Rail and 13 train operators walked out again on Thursday after talks failed to resolve a bitter row over pay, jobs and conditions.
Rachel Maclean, the Minister for Safeguarding at the Home Office and former transport minister will be the government’s representative of BBC Question Time this week and will undoubtedly be telling viewers of the importance of Government plans to change the law to enable businesses to supply skilled agency workers to plug staffing gaps during industrial action.
Under current trade union laws, employment businesses are restricted from supplying temporary agency workers to cover for strikers, saying it can have a “disproportionate impact”.
The Government said the legislation will repeal the “burdensome” legal restrictions, giving companies affected by strike action the freedom to tap into the services of employment businesses which can provide skilled, temporary agency staff at short notice.
Network Rail welcomed the move but Labour and unions condemned it as a “recipe for disaster”.
Maclean attracted significant headlines in May this year after suggesting that people should simply work more or get better paying jobs. In an interview with Sky News: “I think what we need to focus on now is over the long-term.
“We do have these short-term pressures on us that we’re all aware of.
“But over the long-term we need to have a plan to grow the economy and make sure that people are able to protect themselves better, whether that is by taking on more hours or moving to a better-paid job.
“These are long-term actions but that is what we are focused on as a Government.”
At the time Ian Murray branded the comments as “ludicrous” and that the advice appeared to hark back to Margaret Thatcher’s era of government.
Shadow foreign secretary David Lammy branded the comments “tone deaf”.
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady, who is calling for an emergency Budget, said: “Working people don’t need lectures – they need help.
Nick Thomas-Symonds will appear on the panel representing Labour on the flagship political show Labour’s shadow international trade secretary,
The MP was Torfaen since 2015 has previously hit out at the Conservative over Brexit and the Northern Ireland Protocol. He said: “Now is not the time for a blame game about the workings of the protocol.
“What is needed is a pragmatic way forward.
“Chaos in the Conservative Party should not be preventing ministers from getting around the table and carrying out the painstaking work necessary to find a solution, and the EU should engage in a pragmatic spirit.”
He has also called on Boris Johnson to resign over the Sue Gray report and for an extension of safeguards to save the British steel industry.
Following the murder of MP David Amess, Nick Thomas-Symonds called on the the Government to outline what would be done to protect the staff of MPs saying: “In order to stand firm in the face of these threats we must do everything possible to guard against these violent positions, not least as we hear, as the Home Secretary has set out, that the threat level to MPs has been raised to substantial, and we accept the assessment made by the joint terrorism assessment centre that the threat has increased.”
RMT general secretary Mick Lynch will also be on the panel having been hailed by many for his work during this week’s train strikes. The general secretary, who has been in place since last year, began working on the railways in 1993 for Eurostar. He won compensation 20 years after being blacklisted from a construction firm for joining a union.
His profile has risen rapidly over the last few weeks with celebratory memes, casting Mick Lynch in the role of Chuck Norris, and videos of him “eviscerating’ Tory MPs in interviews.
Lynch has been popular on social media for his direct interview style, with many hailing him for his direct approach to interviews and his approach to MPs such as Jonathan Gullis, Robert Jenrick. He was hailed for his comments to Kay Burley on picketing, his handling of questions from Richard Madeley on GMB, Piers Morgan and other interviews.
He hit out at railways making profits but not paying workers properly telling Sky: “They’re using the temporary phenomenon of Covid as a smokescreen to get rid of decent conditions and decent pay rates.”
“RMT members are leading the way for all workers in this country who are sick and tired of having their pay and conditions slashed by a mixture of big business profits and Government policy. Now is the time to stand up and fight for every single railway worker in this dispute that we will win”
The founder and CEO of online bank Starling will be appearing on the panel and will be discussing all aspects of the economy and finance amid the cost of living crisis. With a 40-year career in banking and finance, Boden will be able to shed her insight on the current crisis.
The banker has hit out new trends such as crypto currency, branding it dangerous - and set her sights on expansion.
Starling Bank has revealed aims to overtake its mainstream rival Barclays in the business banking market within five years as the digital lender also gears up for a stock market float.
Starling’s founder and chief executive, Anne Boden, told the PA news agency it was a “very realistic” timescale to surpass the Big Five player and more than double its 7% share of the small business market. In November last year Ms Boden said Starling is no longer a challenger, but a mainstream player that is “taking on the big banks”.
“We see a world where we are growing substantial market share and people will be saying ‘NatWest, HSBC and Starling’,” she said.
The group’s meteoric rise in the small business market has reportedly attracted the attentions of various suitors, such as Lloyds Banking Group and JPMorgan Chase.
The former Brexit Party MEP for London will round off the BBC QT panel this evening.
Habib previously worked in finance and now runs a multinational property investment company. He brought a legal challenge against the NI Protocol which was dismissed when the Court of Appeal in Belfast found that the Northern Ireland Protocol lawful.
Following the election in Northern Ireland, which saw a Sinn Fein victory in Stormont, Habib said: “We have to have a unionist majority in Stormont, we have to use that unionist majority to bring Stormont down.
“There can be no Stormont for as long as the protocol exists.
“If we get that unionist majority then it is down to you people to hold those politicians to account, to make sure that they do what they promised which is to not allow the Executive to form and to ensure Stormont is not reformed until the protocol goes.