02/12/2016 12:49 GMT | Updated 02/12/2016 13:00 GMT

BBC Question Time Sees Laurie Penny Clash With Primary School Teacher Over ‘Racism’ Claims

Teacher called 'racist' after clash with Laurie Penny over English being spoken in the playground.

A primary school teacher on BBC Question Time who clashed with writer Laurie Penny over Leave voters being labelled racist, was then himself called racist.

Speaking on the show, which was this week held in Wakefield, west Yorkshire, the man said: “I’ve worked at various schools where English is genuinely not the first language on the playground, not between the children but by the parents.

“Once upon a time, people came to this country and gradually integrated and were welcomed. We’re a very welcoming nation.

“But when you get a massive influx of people all coming at the same time, that’s what people have a problem with. That’s when we get concerned when we go to the doctors and we can’t get appointments, when we go down to A&E and it’s full.

“Now people may turn round and say ‘oh no, no, that’s racist, that’s facist, that’s not acceptable’.

“But 18 million people…we knew what we were voting for, we know we want to get out and the sooner we start and trigger Article 50, the better.”

The primary school teacher clashed with Laurie Penny on BBC Question Time

But Penny, who earlier argued that Britain was losing its status as a “tolerant, compassionate” country, challenged him on why he felt uneasy about hearing parents in the playground speak different languages.

She said: “I understand that it hurts to hear people say ‘that’s racist’, ‘that’s xenophobic’, but do you know what also hurts? To be a victim of racism, to be a victim of anti-immigration.

“Let me put it to you: in Wakefield here, 95% of the people of Wakefield were born in the UK, this is not a town which is experiencing a giant migration crisis.

“I want to know from you sir, what it is about listening to people speak a different language in the playground that makes you uncomfortable and how you think that connects to the fact that you can’t get a doctor’s appointment because the NHS is a crisis that is nothing to do with that?”

The teacher retorted by arguing that different languages made for a “divisive” atmosphere.

He said: “There’s various different accents and languages you hear but what you do find is it fires up different parents and all of a sudden, the parents are complaining, and then children, who weren’t aware really of where different children came from, all of a sudden are becoming quite divisive because the parents are becoming divisive.

“Unfortunately when people come en masse, they don’t want to integrate with everybody else because they’ve got their own little communities and that’s what’ we’re finding in school playgrounds.”

His comments prompted many people on Twitter, including former Children’s Laureate Michael Rosen, to criticise him...

But plenty did try to defend him, however...

The show was marked by repeated criticism from the audience who were angry about an apparent delay to triggering Article 50 and the perception Leave voters were not aware of the consequences of the vote.

Penny, who writes for the New Statesman, also raised concerns about how migrants are being viewed when an audience member voiced fears incomers were being seen as an “infection”.

She said: “We seem to have forgotten that Britain is supposed to be a compassionate nation. A human nation. That is the Britain I’m proud of.

“I want that country back. People are saying they want their country back. I want the tolerant, compassionate Britain back. I’m worried that we’re losing it.”