The flagship BBC show returned to Liver after a hiatus over Easter and the question initially asked was “do we need to do more to tackle anti-Semitism?”
Conservative Minister for Orpington and brother of Boris Johnson, Jo Johnson, attacked Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn over his response to the recent anti-Semitism row within his Party, saying it showed “lack of leadership”.
However, just as Question Time Presenter David Dimbleby was about to move onto another question, an audience member heckled: “Boris Johnson ,the current Foreign Secretary, has actually been racist on record many times.”
Mr Dimbleby quickly issued a mike to the outspoken Scouser, where he added: “Genuinely. It’s terrible.”
Mr Johnson quickly interjected to say his brother did not have a “racist bone in his body”.
But Guardian columnist Jonathan Freedland reminded the Conservative minister the Foreign Secretary had called people in Africa “piccaninnies with watermelon smiles”.
He was referring to a Daily Telegraph article in 2002 in which Boris Johnson mocked Tony Blair.
The Foreign Secretary wrote: “What a relief it must be for Blair to get out of England.
“It is said that the Queen has come to love the Commonwealth, partly because it supplies her with regular cheering crowds of flag-waving piccaninnies.”
But another BBC Question Time audience panelist, Kate Andrews from the Institute of Economic Affairs, said the Labour Party had not done enough to stamp out anti-Semitism.
She said: “Yes anti-Semitism can be found across society, but the Labour leadership has done nothing to address the very serious problem within its own Party.
“Under no circumstances should it be acceptable on the highest level of politics.”
The question came after Israel’s Labor Party broke ties with Mr Corbyn’s Party.
Israel Labor Party leader Avi Gabbay wrote to Mr Corbyn: “It is my responsibility to acknowledge the hostility you have shown to the Jewish community and the anti-Semitic statements and actions you have allowed as leader of the Labour Party UK.”
Mr Corbyn, a supporter of Palestinian rights and critic of Israel, has repeatedly faced accusations of turning a blind eye to anti-Semitism in the party and groups he supports.
Mr Gabbay said: “As Israel approaches Holocaust and Heroism Remembrance Day this week, we are reminded of the horrors of anti-Semitism in Europe and our commitment to combating anti-Semitism of all forms and in all places.”