All we learn about BBC’s Question Time election particular – and Farage’s absence

It’s time to get your popcorn at the ready as political leaders across the spectrum will face a grilling on tonight’s BBC Question Time election special.

With just two weeks to go until polling day, the campaign between PM hopefuls is ramping up – with Keir Starmer joining football legend Gary Neville for an emotional chat in the Lake District and Rishi Sunak scaring sheep away on a visit to North Devon. Both leaders also faced a grilling on LBC this week as callers challenged Mr Sunak’s staggering personal wealth and Mr Starmer pressed on Labour’s plans to tax private schools.

But the debates are far from over as both Mr Starmer and Mr Sunak will join other party leaders on a panel show tonight, hosted by broadcasting veteran Fiona Bruce. The two-hour special will see four politicians each get a 30-minute slot to answer questions from a live audience. It will be the first multi-party TV debate since ITV’s General Election special on 13 June.

The major debate comes as a new mega-poll predicts a breathtaking loss for the Tories on July 4. The bombshell YouGov figures revealed yesterday the Tories are likely to be reduced to just 108 MPs, down a whopping 257 since 2019. If the data is correct, Labour will sail into a glorious victory, securing 425 seats. Other polls released this week predict a similar fate for the Conservatives.

As party leaders gear up to face tough questions from the public, we explain everything you need to know about tonight’s debate – including how to watch and who will be on the panel.

What time is the Question Time special on tonight?

Tonight’s sizzling debate kicks off at 8pm. It’s a two-hour special and each party leader will get 30 minutes to answer burning questions from participants in the live audience.

Audience members have been chosen from a “wide range of political sentiment and voting intentions from across Great Britain,” according to the broadcaster. They have been asked to submit their questions in advance.

Who is on Question Time tonight?

The Question Show special aims to represent political party leaders across the spectrum, with four politicians confirmed in the line-up. Tory PM Rishi Sunak, Labour leader Keir Starmer, John Swinney for the Scottish National Party and Ed Davey for the Liberal Democrats all set to face the live studio audience.

Ed Davey will kick the debate off with his 30 minute slot. Then we’ll hear from John Swinney before Keir Starmer takes the floor. Finally, the crisis-striken Rishi Sunak will face questions from the public.

Where is tonight’s Question Time special being broadcasted from?

The BBC’s traditional Question Time show is notoriously filmed up and down the country, in a bid to make sure voices across Britain are heard in the debates. Tonight’s election special is being hosted in York.

York Central is a Labour seat, held by Rachael Maskell. She is the Labour and Co-operative candidate for York Central in the upcoming General Election.

Why is Reform UK’s Nigel Farage not on Question Time tonight?

When announcing its Question Time election special line-up, the BBC confirmed that Nigel Farage was not included. The right-wing Reform UK leader publicly lashed out at the broadcaster after not getting an invite. At a press conference last week, Mr Farage said: “As we are now ahead of the Conservatives in the polls, I demand that Reform UK is a part of this debate. If the BBC want a fight with me on this, they can have one.”

The Beeb has since announced that it will host an additional Question Time special featuring representatives from Reform UK and the Green Party, on 28 June. In response, Mr Farage took to X, formerly Twitter, to write: “I am pleased that the BBC acknowledge that support for Reform UK has been growing in this election. We must now be included in the head-to-head debate with Sunak and Starmer on June 26th.”

There is no sign of Mr Farage getting a look-in on the upcoming BBC One prime ministerial debate on 26 June. The I’m A Celeb alum has already conceded that he won’t win the General Election, admitting his “real ambition” is the next one.