Brian Cox
© REUTERS/ Dylan Martinez; inset: Wikimedia Commons
Professor Brian Cox (inset) says the phrase "the British people" is "inflammatory" and "nonsense".
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.

"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."

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.

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.

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.