David Lammy, the Shadow Justice Secretary, has been praised over his handling of a caller named Jean who told him live on LBC that he is not English.
Mr Lammy was discussing the term BAME - Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic - on his radio show when Jean, a member of the public, phoned in and told the 48-year-old Tottenham MP: “You will never be English, you are African-Caribbean.”
The conversation has been watched far and wide on social media, with the clip quickly racking up more than two million views on Twitter.
What did David Lammy say in response?
In response, Mr Lammy gave a brief history of British colonialism.
He said his parents were among many people from around the world who “ended up coming back to the mother country”.
He also described how he found out he had Scottish roots after taking a DNA test.
He said: “Here I am, having grown up in this country, have been born of this country, and actually the truth is it’s a myth there’s one English ethnicity – there’s not.
“England has always been a country in which Huguenots, Danes, all sorts of people have passed through.
“So when you say you are English, I’m not saying that doesn’t mean something to you and matter hugely… but it is to say that for me, the fact that I was born here and the fact that my sensibilities are English mean I want to claim that heritage as well.”
The caller went on to say that it was “fine” for Mr Lammy to say he was British, but that he was “not English”.
Jean replied: “All I can say is the whole world is polluting everybody the way it’s going.”
Mr Lammy responded that her outlook was “negative”, and added: “Just as you can be in America and be African-American, or you can be Italian-American, or you can be Irish-American, how is it that here in England, you can only claim that Englishness effectively, Jean, if you are white?”
Praise for David Lammy
Among those to tweet their praise for Mr Lammy was Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, who wrote: “Huge admiration for my friend @DavidLammy. Well said.”
Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner wrote: “This is disgraceful. The way that Black Britons have to justify their Britishness or Englishness is absolutely disgusting.
“Solidarity with @DavidLammy who dealt with this impeccably. David is just as British or English as I am and he’s the best of Britain and the best of England.”
SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon wrote: “Bravo @DavidLammy.”
Mr Lammy himself later tweeted to say: “Don’t ever tell me I’m ‘not English’.”
The phone-in came as Mr Lammy was discussing the reported recommendation from Boris Johnson’s racial disparity commission that the term BAME should no longer be used.