Tough crowd: Leaders face combative grilling by Question Time audience

The main political party leaders faced a tough grilling from the Question Time audience, with Boris Johnson jeered, while Jeremy Corbyn was accused of having “reckless socialist ideas”.

During the BBC’s Leaders Special, the audience was hostile to all four party leaders, but particularly to the Prime Minister, who was quizzed on trust, the NHS and his controversial work as a journalist.

Mr Johnson was asked: “How important is it for someone in your position of power to always tell the truth?”

He was met with loud groans as he blamed the erosion of trust in politicians on Brexit.

“There is so much groaning here” host Fiona Bruce noted later, before telling the audience to settle down.

Boris Johnson answers questions
Boris Johnson answers questions

One audience member asked Mr Johnson: “Racist rhetoric in this country is completely rife. Will you admit that you have personally contributed to this and say the words ‘I’m sorry’?”

Bruce highlighted articles written by Mr Johnson where he compared Muslim women to letterboxes and said tribal warriors had “watermelon smiles”.

The Prime Minister said he defended his right to speak and parts of his articles had been taken out of context.

He added the article was a liberal defence of women’s right to wear what they wished.

The audience of approximately 150 people had a roughly equal split between Conservative and Labour voters, with smaller groups of SNP and Liberal Democrat voters.

Jeremy Corbyn was quizzed over nationalisation, anti-Semitism, misogyny and freedom of speech.

Asking a question about the Labour policy of nationalising broadband, one audience member said: “Your reckless socialist ideas are genuinely terrifying to me, my family and my friends and I think freedom will completely erode if we let you have the keys to Number 10.”

Someone else asked: “I look at some of the female Labour MPs and the misogyny that is happening in the Labour Party, they have been driven out of the party.”

The questioner referenced a video of former Labour MP Ruth Smeeth being heckled at a Labour Party event before Mr Corbyn was said to happily talk with the heckler.

He continued: “I don’t buy this whole nice old grandpa, I see that video and that tells me all I need to know and I am terrified for my daughters because I see what you did in that video.”

The Labour leader was questioned about his stance on a second Scottish independence referendum.

“Is the UK like the Hotel California? You can check out any time you want but never leave?” an audience member asked.

Jo Swinson was later mocked for declaring she could be prime minister at the start of the General Election campaign.

Jo Swinson faces the audience
Jo Swinson faces the audience

The Liberal Democrat leader was asked: “Do you regret starting off the campaign by saying you could be PM and do you now agree how ridiculous that sounded?”

“Start with the easy ones,” Ms Swinson replied before adding that the election was not a binary choice between Jeremy Corbyn and Boris Johnson.

An audience member later asked the Liberal Democrat leader: “Is revoking Article 50 confirming to 17.4 million people that you think they’re stupid and didn’t know what we were voting for?”

Ms Swinson said she simply disagreed with people who voted Leave and did not think they were stupid.

An audience member later challenged the Lib Dem leader about her criticism of Mr Corbyn.

He said: “Jeremy Corbyn has been fighting anti-Semitism and racism in all its forms since before you were born, you’ve got some brass neck!”

SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon
SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon

Nicola Sturgeon was questioned about Scottish independence and the potential of neglecting Scotland’s interest over Brexit.

An audience member asked: “You argue that you’re so against Brexit and so on, but surely your own independence is another form of Brexit?”