BBC Question Time has been criticised for 'normalising racism' after sharing an anti-immigration rant from an audience member on its social media pages.

A woman asked the BBC's flagship political show’s panel at what point the UK “should completely close the borders” to immigrants and complained about the number of people “flooding in” to the country and using public services.

Following the airing of the episode, the BBC shared the clip of the rant on Question Time’s social media pages with a caption that did not challenge the audience member’s argument, which was described by many as “misinformed” and “factually inaccurate”.

READ MORE: Why audience manipulation on BBC Question Time is an assault on truth and journalism 

The clip was shared on social media by official BBC accounts racking up more than four million times on Twitter alone in just 24 hours. 

Ofcom has confirmed the comments made are the subject of at least one complaint from a viewer. 

The full clip of the audience member’s tirade being reshared by the BBC on social media by Question Time prompted a backlash from users pointing out that the claims in the video were inaccurate and offensive. 

Video posts on the programme’s social media pages do not contain fact-checking or context for the comments expressed in them.

Panellists on Thursday night’s show, broadcast from Weymouth, were discussing the potential of the government’s new immigration proposals.

The woman began her rant stating: “Sixty-eight million people now live in England – going up, according to UN estimates. At what stage does the panel and people think that this country has had enough? That we should close the borders, completely close the borders.”


She continued: “Because it’s got to the stage now … there’s no education, infrastructure … we’re sinking, surely someone’s got to see common sense and say enough is enough. You’ve got people flooding into this country who can’t speak English.”

She went on to question the cost of interpreters and signs in different languages in NHS facilities, while not acknowledging the contribution of immigrant workers in the health service.

The woman, from London, added: “What sort of country is allowing this tourism to come in? You arrive on a plane, get free service, can have your babies. You can carry on having it all for free.”

READ MORE: Question Time audience bursts into laughter over panellists' Boris Johnson comment 

Panellist Ash Sarkar, a journalist and lecturer at the Sandberg Institute in Amsterdam, countered the claims. She pointed out immigrants contribute more in tax than other citizens. Indeed, a 2018 Oxford Economics study found immigrants who arrived in the UK in 2016 were expected to make a net lifetime contribution of £26.9 billion to public finances.

HeraldScotland: Ash Sarkar Ash Sarkar

A Question Time spokesperson insisted the social media output was justified. “Last night’s Question Time included a debate about immigration which featured a broad range of views from the audience members and panellists.

“We posted five clips of people expressing their different views on the issue, including a panellist responding directly to the views of an audience member.”

Nasar Meer, professor of race, identity and citizenship at the University of Edinburgh, described the statement from the audience member as an “incitement to racial hatred”.

He told The National: “It seems profoundly inappropriate that that is shared as a window into a programme. The BBC shouldn’t be a vehicle for this. It should be, at best, arbitrating competing views, but not promoting views that are known to be untrue.”

He warned that broadcast media was “intimately related” to the experience of black and ethnic minorities and hate crime, adding: “So when you’ve got a broadcaster promoting racist and hateful views, then it’s inevitable that that will have an impact on the lives of people on the street, in the workplace and in school.”

He called for Question Time not only to apologise, but to put forward a strategy to ensure a repeat of this incident “never happens again”.