Hartlepool found itself the focus of a backlash on social media after a Polish woman was booed over her comments on Brexit when the BBC’s Question Time came to town.
Viewers nationwide took to Twitter to accuse the town, which voted by 70% to quit Europe in June’s referendum, of racism, intolerance and ignorance.
The woman faced jeers and some boos when she said she no longer felt welcome since Brexit despite living in the country for 23 years and being married to a British man.
A Hartlepool councillor who was also in the audience said afterwards he felt ashamed to be from Hartlepool.
The show was recorded at the Borough Hall and the panel was made up of Conservative Ken Clarke, Labour’s Angela Rayner, UKIP’s Lisa Duffy, former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis and cross-bench peer Conrad Black.
Topics of debate included the US presidential candidates, Brexit and child refugees coming to the UK.
Watching on TV you might think the whole room was booing that Polish lady, which simply isn’t trueJonathan Brash
Comments on Twitter using the hashtag bbcqt included Jessica Selous (Tweeting as @JessicaSelous) who said: “Forget Mexico... let’s build a wall across Hartlepool,” while Jonathan Christie (@JonoTheBoyyo) said: “Did Hartlepool show itself to be the self-obsessed, politically uninformed bubble of ignorance that it is?”
Philip Proudfoot (@PhilipProudfoot) asked: “What happened to our Northern hospitality #Hartlepool? Booing and braying racists. shocking.”
But Sunday Mirror columnist Carol Malone tweeted: “Angry Polish woman in the #bbcqt audience said the British people voted for immigration. No, they voted to control it. HUGE difference.”
Hart ward Councillor David Riddle, of Putting Hartlepool First, who was in the audience, said: “Some of the Brexiters came across as quite aggressive. Shouting down people’s comments, heckling and booing the Polish lady.
“I was embarrassed for how it might have made the town look to be honest. I was ashamed to be Hartlepudlian last night.”
Former Hartlepool councillor, teacher Jonathan Brash said the edited version of the programme misrepresented the views of the majority in the audience.
He said: “Watching on TV you might think the whole room was booing that Polish lady, which simply isn’t true.
“The vast majority were supportive. A small minority let the side down by being hostile.”