Laurence Fox’s Question Time showdown with ethnicity lecturer divides Twitter12 min read

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Laurence Fox’s Question Time slanging match with an ethnicity lecturer over Meghan Markle has sent Twitter into a melt down.

The 41-year-old accused Rachel Boyle, an academic at Edge Hill University on Merseyside, of ‘being racist’ after she called him ‘a white privileged male’ for denying the Duchess of Sussex was hounded from Britain for being mixed-race.

The star of ITV drama Lewis and former husband of actress Billie Piper has divided Twitter with some hailing him as a ‘hero’ and ‘bang on the money’ with others slamming him as ‘contemptuous’.

Twitter sees one of its biggest reactions ever after actor Laurence Fox sparked a racism row following his Question Time slanging match with an ethnicity lecturer over Meghan Markle last night

Twitter sees one of its biggest reactions ever after actor Laurence Fox sparked a racism row following his Question Time slanging match with an ethnicity lecturer over Meghan Markle last night 

John Hooper wrote: ‘I don’t know much about Laurence Fox, but he’s fast turning into a hero of mine’ while Edd Lees added: ‘Laurence Fox is the hero we never knew we needed.’

David Gould added: ‘Thank god for people like Laurence Fox and Piers Morgan, talking common sense in an increasingly mad world.’

Karen said she’s ‘with Laurence on account of the fact he’s bang on the money’.

Fox rolls his eyes and looks to the ceiling as he denied treatment of Meghan Markle was racist, declaring 'Oh my God' when called a 'white privileged male'

Fox rolls his eyes and looks to the ceiling as he denied treatment of Meghan Markle was racist, declaring ‘Oh my God’ when called a ‘white privileged male’

Viva wrote: ‘Laurence Fox is the fatigued and exhausted British Public personified. He’s decided to unsubscribe from the Woke newsletter. I’ll join him.’

Others condemned Fox’s views. Maggie Rankin said: ‘I’m no regular watcher of #bbcqt but it’s rare I’d rather listen to the Tory representative than the non-politician/journalist.  

‘Laurence Fox came across as really contemptuous. If you don’t want your views scrutinised, don’t go on this programme.’

Actor Laurence Fox

Rachel Boyle, a lecturer in race ethnicity at Edge Hill University on Merseyside

Fox (left) was involved in an extraordinary slanging match last night with Question Time audience member Rachel Boyle (right), a lecturer in race ethnicity

A Twitter user who goes by the name Barhamm said: ‘Oh dear. A white and privileged actor sings about being white and a victim of oppression?! You couldn’t make it up. Fox has.’

Dave P said: ‘As much as I have enjoyed his acting in the past, I would now like to see other actors refusing to work with Laurence Fox unless he provides a full and sincere apology.’  

Fox today quoted Martin Luther King’s ‘I have a dream’ speech following his appearance on the programme and goaded critics about loving their ‘leftist tears’ and ‘giggling at their expense’. 

He shared an excerpt of Dr King’s 1963 speech about living in a nation where children ‘will not be judged by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character’.  

Laurence quoted Martin Luther King and lampooned the 'leftist tears' of his critics after last night's row

Laurence quoted Martin Luther King and lampooned the ‘leftist tears’ of his critics after last night’s row

He said: ‘This is the position I took last night and I live by in life. If you can improve on it, I’m all ears. Or you can keep screeching “Racist!” at me and I can carry on having a jolly good giggle at your expense. The tide is turning’. 

He also revealed his Twitter feed has been flooded with abusive messages – but urged the trolls to keep them coming.

He suggested he was ‘having the best day of my life ever’ and was ‘drinking all of these leftist tears’, adding: ‘My cup it overfloweth. But please don’t stop’. 

His opponent Ms Boyle said today she’s ‘not a**sed’ about the row and tweeted: ‘Fell out with @LozzaFox (not a***d), upset a (majority white) audience (not a***d) but called the treatment of Meghan Markle what it is “racism”. Thank you to @bbcquestiontime for having me’.

Laurence couldn't cope with what he was hearing and looked like he was banging his head on a desk

Laurence couldn’t cope with what he was hearing and looked like he was banging his head on a desk

Rachel Boyle has appeared on the sofa reviewing newspapers for the BBC  - but viewers pointed out she was introduced as an audience member

Rachel Boyle has appeared on the sofa reviewing newspapers for the BBC  – but viewers pointed out she was introduced as an audience member

Ms Boyle has appeared on BBC Breakfast as a newspaper reviewer and describes herself on social media as a university lecturer researching race and ethnicity. 

Full exchange: Rachel Boyle v Laurence Fox 

Rachel Boyle: ‘The problem we’ve got with this is that Meghan has agreed to be Harry’s wife and then the Press have torn her to pieces. Let’s be really clear about what this is – let’s call it by its name, it’s racism, she’s a black woman and she has been torn to pieces.’

Laurence Fox: ‘It’s not racism, you can’t just…’

RB: ‘She has been torn to pieces.’

LF: ‘It’s not racism.’

RB: ‘It absolutely is.’

LF: ‘No it’s not, we’re the most tolerant, lovely country in Europe.’

RB: ‘Says a white privileged man.’

LF: ‘It’s not racism.

RB: ‘Says a white privileged man.’

LF: ‘Oh God. It’s so easy to throw the charge of racism at everybody and it’s really starting to get boring.

RB: ‘What worries me about your comment is you are a white privileged male who has no experience in this.

LF: ‘I can’t help what I am, I was born like this, it’s an immutable characteristic, so to call me a white privileged male is to be racist – you’re being racist.’ 

She was jeered as she called Mr Fox, a QT panellist in Liverpool last night, ‘a white privileged male’ when he denied her claims and said Britain is ‘the most tolerant, lovely country in Europe.’

He shot back at her: ”Oh my God. I can’t help what I am, I was born like this, it’s an immutable characteristic: to call me a white privileged male is to be racist – you’re being racist’. 

Mr Fox was visibly exasperated by their exchange last night, first looking to the sky in despair and then appearing to bang his head on the desk. 

He has won huge numbers of new fans and was cheered as he spoke out about Meghan and Harry ‘having their cake and eating it’ and demanding: ‘Can we have the cottage back and your HRHs?’ 

He also blasted climate change hypocrisy by ‘lecturing’ stars and the Labour leadership contest, where he made the audience giggle when he nicknamed Jeremy Corbyn ‘magic grandpa’. 

And after being asked about if he had sympathy for the Sussexes he added: ‘Surely Harry should have had a chat with Meghan at some point and said: ‘By the way this is going to be misery and you don’t have to marry me if you don’t want to’.

‘And then they hop out and I think, can we have the cottage back and your HRHs? I do sympathise with them but there is a little bit of having your cake and eating it, which I don’t enjoy’. 

Their angry exchange began when Ms Boyle said criticism of Meghan in the media had been motivated by ‘racism’, adding: ‘She’s a black woman and she has been torn to pieces.’

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But Fox hit back, saying: ‘it’s not racism’ and continued: We’re the most tolerant, lovely country in Europe… it’s so easy to throw the charge of racism at everybody and it’s really starting to get boring’.

However, Ms Boyle angered him and much of the audience by replying: ‘What worries me about your comment is you are a white privileged male who has no experience in this.’

Laurence enjoys an after show drink with host Fiona Bruce and Ms Grant after a compelling show last night

Laurence enjoys an after show drink with host Fiona Bruce and Ms Grant after a compelling show last night

Today he brushed off criticism on Twitter and said he'd 'rather eat a lightbulb' than learn more about white privilege

Today he brushed off criticism on Twitter and said he’d ‘rather eat a lightbulb’ than learn more about white privilege

Fox (far right) was on the panel with Fiona Bruce (centre) with Culture Minister Helen Whately, Labour peer Shami Chakrabarti, SNP MP Alyn Smith and Madeline Grant from the Telegraph

Fox (far right) was on the panel with Fiona Bruce (centre) with Culture Minister Helen Whately, Labour peer Shami Chakrabarti, SNP MP Alyn Smith and Madeline Grant from the Telegraph

Fox responded: ‘I can’t help what I am, I was born like this, it’s an immutable characteristic, so to call me a white privileged male is to be racist – you’re being racist’.

Fox also attracted attention on the BBC programme for comments about climate change.

Joking about the hypocrisy of celebrities who fly regularly, Fox said: ‘The carbon footprint’s huge.

‘But we make up for it by preaching to everyone how they should change their life.’ 

Mr Fox has an army of new fans after his Question Time performance with many demanding: 'Get him on every week'

Mr Fox has an army of new fans after his Question Time performance with many demanding: ‘Get him on every week’

Laurence Fox’s QT highlights

On a being actor on flying around the world: ‘Yeah the carbon footprint is huge – but we make up for it by preaching to everyone else about how they should change their lives’.

On Meghan and Harry quitting: ‘I feel sorry for them, in a way, because it’s difficult when you have a young baby and all that but surely Harry should have had a chat with Meghan at some point and said: ‘By the way this is going to be misery and you don’t have to marry me if you don’t want to’.

And then they hop out and I think, can we have the cottage back and your HRHs? I do sympathise with them but there is a little bit of having your cake and eating it, which I don’t enjoy’.

On racism and Asian sex gangs: ‘We need to call out racism when it’s seen and stand together to condemn it – but for fear of sounding racist there have been series of horrific things happening in Manchester and other towns all across the north of England and we should be careful and not call someone racist because they don’t agree with you’.

On the north: ‘The people here are much nicer than anyone you’ll meet in London, ever’.

On the Labour leadership: ‘Hmmm, who should replace magic grandpa. Keir Starmer? He just looks like he can take Boris on. That the vibe I get’. 

Shami Chakrabarti accused him of ignoring female candidates and he replied:  ‘Oh God it’s not about women, jeepers creepers. Sorry, let me rewind. Any of the women. Is that better? Any woman. Because it’s really important what your gender is or what your sexuality is rather than what your policies are’.

Today the actor revealed his Twitter feed had been flooded with abusive messages and said: ‘Dear trolls. Water off a ducks back. Happy Friday everyone’. 

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One critic urged him to ‘find out some more about white privilege’, to which he replied: ‘I would genuinely rather eat a lightbulb’.

In a message goading his critics he tweeted later: ‘To be clear, I am in no way having the best day of my life ever drinking all of these leftist tears. My cup it overfloweth. But please don’t stop’.

However, he has also won huge numbers of new fans, who declared they want him on Question Time every week calling him a ‘breath of fresh air’. He was cheered and given a series of ovations as he spoke out about Meghan and Harry, climate change and preferring the north of England to London.

In another fiery exchange Corbynista Shami Chakrabarti accused him of ignoring female candidates in the Labour leadership battle by backing Keir Starmer to replace Jeremy Corbyn, who he called ‘magic grandpa’.

An upset Mr Fox said back sarcastically: ‘Jeepers creepers. Sorry, let me rewind. Any of the women. Is that better? Any woman. Because it’s really important what your gender is or what your sexuality is rather than what your policies are’. 

Jeremy Corbyn provoked a row on Wednesday after he agreed with Prince Harry’s claim that press coverage of his wife Meghan had ‘racial undertones’. 

The Labour leader’s spokesman said he had raised the issue of ‘intrusion’ in media reports about the couple’s relationship. 

But Tory MP Philip Davies hit back, dismissing suggestions that criticism of the Duchess of Sussex was racist.

He said: ‘Anyone who remembers Harry and Meghan’s wedding will recall the huge popularity they had.

‘The criticism of Meghan – whether people think it is justified or not – is nothing to do with racism. That is utter codswallop.’  

Fox posted this after the show - a nod to the extraordinary scenes that would be broadcast later

Fox posted this after the show – a nod to the extraordinary scenes that would be broadcast later

Mr Corbyn’s spokesman had earlier said he agreed with Prince Harry’s concerns about the press coverage of Meghan. 

‘Jeremy has commented in the past in relation to Prince Harry and Meghan, about press intrusion and its impact on people and their families and, to use Prince Harry’s words as well, the ‘racial undertones’ in relation to how the media has approached Meghan,’ they said.

Asked to give examples, another spokesman said: ‘I’m not going to run through the full gamut of the coverage… but he agrees with the broad sentiment that Harry has put forward.’

In November 2016 Harry criticised the ‘wave of abuse and harassment’ his wife, who is mixed race, had faced from the media. He cited ‘racial undertones of comment pieces’ among his concerns. He also criticised ‘racist’ attacks by online trolls.

During Prince William and Kate’s visit to Bradford on Wednesday, British boxing superstar Amir Khan implored the future king and queen to ‘sit together and resolve the situation’ with Harry and Meghan for the good of the Royal Family.

Twitter was ablaze with comments after the TV row between Mr Fox and the academic

Twitter was ablaze with comments after the TV row between Mr Fox and the academic

Speaking after meeting the royal visitors, he said the Duke and Duchess of Sussex had made ‘rash decisions’ but added that he believed Meghan would always be welcome in Britain.

Mr Khan also rejected suggestions the UK is a racist country.

He stressed: ‘I’ve been in many places around the world, I’ve travelled around the world from America to Pakistan…and always come back to England because that’s my home.’