Gary Lineker has said he does not fear getting suspended from the BBC over a tweet criticising the government’s migration policy. Asked by reporters outside his home in London whether he stood by his tweet, the Match of the Day host said: “Course.”
The popular football presenter came under fire on Tuesday night, after likening the government’s latest migration policy aimed at stopping the surge of migrants crossing the Channel to that of Germany in the 30s.
He took to Twitter as he responded to a video of Suella Braverman, the Home Secretary, explaining in detail the ‘Stop the Boats’ or Illegal Migration Bill in the government’s effort to end illegal entry as a route to asylum in the UK.
Lineker commented: “Good heavens, this is beyond awful.” Someone then accused him of being “out of order”, claiming that the communities are already “feeling unsafe” and “devastated” by the influx.
He responded: “There is no huge influx. We take far fewer refugees than other major European countries. This is just an immeasurably cruel policy directed at the most vulnerable people in language that is not dissimilar to that used by Germany in the 30s, and I’m out of order?”
His comments have since angered Tory MPs with Craig Mackinlay, saying they were a “step too far” and suggested BBC sack Lineker, while Jonathan Gullis urged the broadcaster to “stand up” to the presenter and “remind him his job is to talk football, not politics.”
Lucy Frazer, the culture secretary said the presenter’s tweets were “disappointing” and “inappropriate”. She said: “It was important for the BBC to retain impartiality if it is to retain the trust of the public who pay the licence fee.”
Responding to a question in the Commons, she said: “As somebody whose grandmother escaped Nazi Germany in the 1930s I think it’s really disappointing and inappropriate to compare government policy on immigration events in Germany in the 1930s.
“The BBC is operationally independent and I’m pleased the BBC will be speaking to Gary Lineker to remind him of his responsibilities in relation to social media.” The broadcaster reportedly said on Friday Lineker would be “spoken to” as they were taking the matter “extremely seriously.”
However, on Wednesday morning (March 8), Lineker appeared unfazed by the attack and consequences that his action may incur and he will “continue to speak up for those who have no voice.”