The actor hit the headlines last month after he appeared as a panellist of the BBC One current affairs show, during which he accused a mixed-race university lecturer of “racism” for branding him a “white privileged male”.
His comments led to a heated debate on Twitter, with the acting union Equity branding Laurence a “disgrace to our industry”.
On Monday, the 41-year-old Lewis star shared a 13-part thread on Twitter in which he pointed to the “deadly consequences” of society’s so-called “cancel culture.”
HIs Twitter thread read: “I’m going to take an extended break from social media. I’d like to say a couple of things. First of all, a huge thank you to all of you who have followed me throughout my career and travelled vast distances to come and see me on stage, be in acting or singing.
“Since my appearance on question time and the ensuing hubbub, I have had nothing but support on the street, from people of all backgrounds and political view points. In the weird and lonely days that followed that appearance, your kind words have lifted my spirits. Thank you.
“But privately I have been becoming more and more depressed. I have been so shocked by some of the things said to me on these platforms and I have found some of it very hard to process. I think it’s important to stand up to bullies and that is why I have continued to do so.
“But I find that I wake up in dread of what’s to come. I’m a fairly private if opinionated person and it’s been very painful and difficult to cope with. However I also believe passionately in free speech.”
He continued: “I stand wholeheartedly by people’s right to express themselves. But I am fearing for my future and my ability to provide financially for my children. A thought that has kept me awake most nights. People tell me it will blow over, but when you are in it, it doesn’t feel like it will.
“I expressed an opinion, which I stand by and I don’t believe is controversial. As a result Equity UK called (amongst other things) for actors to denounce me. This has been very hard to deal with, given that members weren’t polled before these tweets were sent out...
“I love my job. I am so blessed to have been fortunate enough to make a career out of it and I have met some of the best people and made such great friends whilst working as an actor. The thought of that being taken away saddens me more than I can say.
“I think we need to learn to listen to each other better. I am learning this all the time. I believe that pushing people to the edge of their ability to remain emotionally ok through cancel culture can and does have deadly consequences…
“I know that in order for me to be ok I have to turn this noise off for a while. We all have feelings. We all have hopes and dreams. We don’t have to agree. We just have to respect that we are all different and we all deserve a chance to speak freely.
“We all have privilege too. All of us. Whatever colour or creed. The richest and the poorest. Some see it. Some don’t. Some have more than others. Billionaires have bad days and beggars have good ones. I’ve spent time with both and I know it to be true.
“I wish you ALL all the best. I hope the loudest voices are the ones that come from love and truth. I hope that those who feel hate can be encouraged to find the love around them.
“For me, I’m going to go back to reading more books. There is so much I will miss about Twatter, but on balance, I don’t think I need it half as much as I enjoy it.
“I’ll probably be back on in ten minutes taking the p*** out of Lily Allen!
“Thanks for reading. Loz x”
A number of Twitter users responded by calling him a “hypocrite”, with others suggesting he was guilty of “spreading hatred himself.”
Since he posted the statement, many have urged him to stay online, including Good Morning Britain host Piers Morgan who called out the “PC-crazed virtue-signalling mob” for “hounding” the actor.
He tweeted: “’Laurence Fox hounded off Twitter for daring to challenge the virtue-signalling mob.
“The repulsive abuse & threats these shameless “liberal” (*illiberal) hypocrites spew out on here to anyone who refuses to sign up to their PC-crazed world view is disgraceful. But hey…#BeKind.’”