Media hungry physicist Brian Cox has found himself at the center of a storm of controversy after calling for the phrase “the British people” to be banned because, apparently, it’s “inflammatory and divisive”.
The professor of particle physics, who is best known for hosting science programs on TV, made the bizarre argument in response to a tweet from Home Secretary Priti Patel, which called for greater cooperation between France and the UK on intercepting migrants crossing the channel to Britain.
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“I know that when the British people say they want to take back control of our borders – this is exactly what they mean,” Patel wrote.
The message sparked a furious reply from the scientist, who attacked the use of the seemingly innocuous phrase, “the British people,” and called for its use to be “banned from political discourse.”
I’m so sick of this ‘The British People’ nonsense. It’s inflammatory and divisive and also errant vacuous nonsense with no meaning in a multi-party democracy. The phrase should be banned from political discourse. https://t.co/zVW56W5qlZ
— Brian Cox (@ProfBrianCox) August 8, 2020
Professor Cox has long been an opponent of Brexit, and even joined the ranks of die-hard Remainers by calling for another vote on the issue, despite UK voters clearly opting to leave the European Union.
It seems dissatisfaction with the prevailing political winds in the UK has left the professor so uneasy about his fellow countrymen that he now believes “the British people” is a loaded phrase.
Woke professor calls for the phrase ‘the British people’ to be BANNED. For all their supposed intelligence, some of our leading academics are truly nuts. (He would never say this about ‘the French people’ or ‘the German people’, of course.) https://t.co/FtFZ0cDE5A
— Paul Embery (@PaulEmbery) August 10, 2020
Just when you think Remoan is dead Brian Cox sticks his hand out of the ground like Freddy Kruger.
— Effie Deans (@Effiedeans) August 9, 2020
Many took issue with Cox’s stance, accusing him of flagrant anti-British sentiment. “Woke professor calls for the phrase ‘the British people’ to be BANNED. For all their supposed intelligence, some of our leading academics are truly nuts,” columnist Paul Embery said.
“He would never say this about ‘the French people’ or ‘the German people’, of course,” he added.
Responders also wondered if bitter Remainers would ever accept the 2016 referendum result. Another message noting that Cox had previously used the phrase “European citizens” also racked up thousands of likes.
“British People” used for the people of Britain: not Ok.
“European citizens” used for the citizens of the EU (not Europe): yeah, that’s fine. pic.twitter.com/vbDex8avD6
— Bruce Lawson (@Sapere_vivere) August 9, 2020
Professor Cox sought to quell the storm of reaction by issuing a follow up tweet which accused people of “deliberately misunderstanding” his message. However, the negative replies continued to roll in.
Some are (deliberately?) misunderstanding this. The point is that invoking ‘the will of the people’ or derivatives in promoting policy is a well-rehearsed propaganda technique and has no place in our democratic dialogue. Once elected, Government must seek to unify, not to divide.
— Brian Cox (@ProfBrianCox) August 9, 2020
Good morning, everyone! Everyone except Prof Brian Cox who blocked me last night because I pointed out “the British people” ARE “the British people”’& the fact he wants to ban that phrase proves he is: at best a total cretin, at worst an enemy of Britain.
— Nathalie (@Arwenstar) August 9, 2020
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