Presenter faces fury of BBC and MPs as he refuses to delete Nazi tweet

How many times can Gary Lineker get away with it? Presenter faces fury of BBC journalists and MPs as he refuses to delete tweet comparing government’s migrant removal scheme to Nazi Germany – and ‘won’t answer the phone to bosses’

  • READ MORE: ‘Lecturing’ Lineker continues £4.9million tax battle with HMRC 

Gary Lineker was slammed by MPs today as he refused to delete a tweet comparing Rishi Sunak’s plans to clamp down on migrants crossing the Channel to Nazi Germany. 

The BBC’s corporation’s highest paid star, who earns £1.35million a year from the licence fee payer, has attracted the wrath of his bosses for his divisive comments but is not responding to calls from them about the issue, the i reported. 

Today Downing Street called his intervention ‘not acceptable’ and ‘disappointing’, while Tory MPs have lined up to criticise the flagrant breach of BBC impartiality rules. 

Labour has also condemned the comments, with Sir Keir Starmer’s spokesman saying comparisons with the Nazis ‘aren’t always the best way to make’ an argument. 

The BBC has said it expects to have a ‘frank conversation’ with the presenter over his comments about the UK’s asylum plan as critics demanded he gets the sack for the latest in a long series of impartiality breaches. 

Gary Lineker, who earns £1.35million a year from the licence fee payer, has attracted the wrath of his bosses for his divisive comments

Downing Street has called his intervention ‘not acceptable’ and ‘disappointing’, while Tory MPs have lined up to criticise the flagrant breach of BBC impartiality rules

Criticising Lineker, Energy Secretary Grant Shapps said on Twitter: ‘As a Jewish Cabinet minister I need no lessons about 1930s Germany from @GaryLineker.

‘Like Gary, I am hosting refugees in my own home, but unlike Gary, I do not believe it is either right or moral to tolerate criminal gangs trafficking vulnerable people across the Channel.’ 

Tory deputy chairman Lee Anderson told MailOnline: ‘Yet again Gary Lineker has been allowed to kick about vile and baseless accusations, and the public are sick to the back teeth of it. It’s time to tackle this woke crisp salesman and hold him to account for the nonsense he spews.’

READ MORE: Lineker continues £4.9m tax battle with HMRC

Former minister Robert Jenrick said: ‘My children are the grandchildren of Holocaust survivors, and I think those sorts of words should not be thrown around lightly. Gary Lineker is paid for by the British taxpayer. And it’s disappointing that he is so far out of step with the British public.’ 

In a defiant message to his 8.7million Twitter followers, Lineker said: ‘I have never known such love and support in my life than I’m getting this morning (England World Cup goals aside, possibly).

‘I want to thank each and every one of you. It means a lot. I’ll continue to try and speak up for those poor souls that have no voice. Cheers all’. 

The BBC said earlier today that Lineker would be ‘spoken to’ and ‘reminded of his responsibilities’. 

But Craig Mackinlay, the Conservative MP for South Thanet, said the comments were a ‘step too far’ and that the BBC must sack the presenter.

Lineker today thanked his supporters after his tweet slamming the Government’s plan to crackdown on migrant crossings

Lineker ‘crossed a line’ by comparing Suella Braverman’s migrant plan to Nazi Germany, BBC sources said last night. There are calls for him to be sacked

The corporation’s highest-paid star, who is on £1.35million a year, will be rebuked by bosses for attacking the Home Secretary’s plans to ‘stop the boats’. Suella Braverman told BBC Breakfast today that Gary Lineker’s comments were disappointing

Jonathan Gullis, the Conservative MP for Stoke-on-Trent North, asked the public service broadcaster to ‘stand up’ to the outspoken presenter and ‘remind him his job is to talk football, not politics’. 

Gary Lineker’s long list of Twitter controversies

January 2023

Then-culture secretary Michelle Donelan said the BBC should be ‘conscious’ of recent comments made by Lineker.

Ms Donelan was speaking to The News Agents podcast about remarks Lineker had made on the same show about the World Cup in Qatar and racism in America.

‘There is a problem with impartiality and the BBC, they would say that they’ve recognised that themselves,’ she said.

October 2022 

Lineker breached BBC impartiality rules with a social media post criticising the Tories, the broadcaster’s complaints team ruled.

The Match of the Day host, 62, used Twitter to quote an article about Liz Truss – then foreign secretary – urging Premier League teams to boycott the Champions League final in Russia.

In his post, the former England striker, who has more than 8.7million followers on Twitter, added: ‘And her party will hand back their donations from Russian donors?’.

August 2022 

Lineker sparked a row with a senior BBC journalist this year with a Tweet about sewerage.

He wrote on Twitter: ‘As a politician how could you ever, under any circumstances, bring yourself to vote for pumping sewage into our seas? Unfathomable!’

The tweet prompted veteran BBC journalist Neil Henderson, a home and foreign news editor, to ask the £1.35million-a-year presenter if his contract allowed him to breach the corporation’s impartiality rules. 

The journalist wrote to him: ‘The BBC lives or dies by its impartiality. If you can’t abide it, get off it.’

Mr Henderson, following discussions with BBC bosses, later issued an apology. 

July 2022  

Lineker found himself at odds with ex-racing driver turned Sky commentator Martin Brundle over his response to a Just Stop Oil protest.

Protesters stormed the British Grand Prix, sparking fury from Brundle, who said they could have been killed.

Lineker tweeted: ‘History will look back very favourably on these people’. 

But Brundle replied: ‘Gary please don’t encourage this reckless behaviour. ‘They’d have been sliced into 100 pieces and fans, marshals and drivers were wholly at risk of injury and death. I totally support freedom of speech and opinion, but do it responsibly.’ 

October 2020

Lineker said he had spoken to the BBC’s director-general Tim Davie ‘quite a few times in recent weeks’ and that Mr Davie was ‘perfectly happy’ with his conduct on social media.

His comments came after new guidelines and training were announced by the BBC to ‘ensure the highest possible standards of impartiality’ among staff at the broadcaster.

February 2018 

Lineker was challenged over his comments on Brexit by BBC cricket commentator Jonathan Agnew.

Lineker has been vocal in his opposition to Brexit, including on Twitter and attending a rally in 2018 calling for a second referendum.

Agnew, responding to one of Lineker’s posts, Tweeted: ‘Gary. You are the face of BBC Sport. Please observe BBC editorial guidelines and keep your political views, whatever they are and whatever the subject, to yourself. I’d be sacked if I followed your example. Thanks.’

Tom Hunt, Tory MP for Ipswich, said: ‘I think people are used to Gary Lineker pushing the boundaries of what’s acceptable for a highly paid BBC employee. However it’s my strong view that yesterday went way too far.

‘It’s imperative that the BBC management don’t try and brush this under the carpet and take strong action against him. 

‘He needs to know that he can’t act with impunity. Comparing a popular government Bill that commands support across the country and is 100 per cent necessary with Nazi Germany is abhorrent. I wait with baited breath to see what the BBC do.’

Yesterday Lineker shared online a video of Mrs Braverman outlining the Illegal Migration Bill, with the comment: ‘Good heavens, this is beyond awful.’ He then used his Twitter account to describe the plans as ‘immeasurably cruel’.

Accused of being out of order, the former England footballer, who has been criticised for previous anti-Tory comments, replied: ‘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?’

The remarks incensed Conservative MPs who accused the presenter of an ‘extraordinary and outrageous slur’.

The Home Secretary today said she felt that Lineker’s comments were ‘disappointing’. She told BBC Breakfast: ‘I think it’s unhelpful to compare our measures, which are lawful, proportionate and – indeed – compassionate, to 1930s Germany’.

Asked if he should resign or be sacked, she said: ‘That’s a matter for the BBC and they will resolve that.’ She invited Lineker to visit Kent to ‘see what the communities in Kent and Dover and actually all around the UK are feeling about this issue’.

The Match of the Day host has been repeatedly told off by the BBC for his often Left-wing tweets. In October last year he was found to have broken impartiality rules after criticising the Tories and Liz Truss – and has been warned several times about his comments on the Government and Brexit.

Mrs Braverman was on TV and radio today defending her bill, and had a dig at Lineker in the process.

She has insisted the changes would have a deterrent effect and stop people seeking to cross the English Channel in small boats.

She claimed the numbers would ‘fall dramatically’.

Asked how the Government was going to build the detention spaces necessary to house the tens of thousands of people crossing the Channel, the Home Secretary told the BBC: ‘We don’t need to build 50,000 new detention places.

‘We are going to increase our detention capacity, that’s absolutely certain.

‘We will see, based on other countries’ experiences, that once we’re able to relocate people who’ve come here illegally from the United Kingdom to another safe country, like Rwanda, or back to their own home country, then, actually, the numbers of people making the journey in the first place will fall dramatically.’

She also defended her controversial claim to MPs that ‘there are 100million people around the world who could qualify for protection under our current laws’ and ‘they are coming here’.

Asked about her comments on the BBC, the Home Secretary said: ‘I see my role as being honest… I’m not going to shy away from displaying the enormity of the problem that we are facing.

‘The UN itself has confirmed there are over 100million people who are displaced globally, because of all sorts of factors like conflict or persecution… and these are many people who would like to come to the United Kingdom.

‘The simple truth is that we cannot accept everybody who wants to come to the United Kingdom.’

Lineker, 62, is expected to be rebuked by bosses ‘very promptly’ a BBC source said. They added: ‘It’s clear that a line has been crossed.’

It comes after he was found to have broken BBC impartiality rules for singling out Conservatives over having ‘Russian donors’ in a post in February last year.

This is Gary Lineker’s response to the outcry over his comments on Tory policy on migrants arriving illegally in Britain by boat

A group of people thought to be migrants are brought in to Dover, Kent, onboard a Border Force vessel following a small boat incident in the Channel on Monday

In a radio interview, Lineker also described remarks by Mrs Braverman about the Rwanda removals policy as ‘pretty abhorrent’.

In September last year the BBC faced a backlash over claims it had forced a senior journalist to apologise to Lineker for criticising the Match of the Day host’s anti-Government tweets.

That same month, director-general Tim Davie was forced to address the continued controversy over Lineker’s politicised tweets when he appeared in front of MPs. The BBC boss said the presenter’s approach to impartiality was a ‘work in progress’, but he claimed his social media behaviour had seen a ‘massive improvement’.

Mrs Braverman yesterday said judges at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg would be asked not to intervene in asylum policy. It is understood they will be told that if they fail to agree, UK domestic law will be changed to allow ministers to ignore their rulings.

All claims lodged by irregular migrants – such as small boat arrivals – will be ruled inadmissible as soon as they reach Britain. They will be detained, removed ‘in weeks’ to either their home country or a safe third country such as Rwanda – and banned from ever returning, Rishi Sunak said.

The vast majority will have to lodge appeals abroad. In other developments:

  • Mr Sunak said migrant removal flights to Rwanda could begin by the summer;
  • The PM vowed to overcome opposition in the courts and Parliament;
  • Mrs Braverman warned there was a more than 50 per cent chance her Bill would fall foul of the European Convention on Human Rights;
  • Writing in the Mail today, she says ‘Establishment forces’ have blocked previous attempts to solve the Channel crisis;
  • The UN’s refugee agency is ‘profoundly concerned’ by the plans, which it says amount to an asylum ban;
  • It emerged that an Afghan waiting in a French camp to take a small boat to the UK was deported from Britain in 2019 after raping a girl of just 12;
  • TikTok said it was cracking down on adverts by human traffickers.

Tory MP Craig Mackinlay (left) said Lineker’s comments were a ‘step too far’ and called for the BBC to fire him. Conservative MP Jonathan Gullis (right), said the corporation should ‘stand up’ to the presenter

Rishi Sunak said migrant removal flights to Rwanda could begin by the summer

Conservative MP Bill Cash said: ‘I am really very angry he should make such an extraordinary and outrageous slur, which is complete and total rubbish. We are trying to help people who otherwise are being taken by criminals on these boats.’

Fellow Tory MP Brendan Clarke-Smith added: ‘It is not just insulting to this nation and the generosity of Brits, but also grossly offensive to the victims of one of the most evil regimes in history, which we also fought against and took many refugees from. Lineker is out of order and needs to get out of his metropolitan bubble and learn some perspective.’

The BBC’s guidance says of its high-profile stars: ‘We expect these individuals to avoid taking sides on party political issues.’

A BBC spokesman said: ‘Individuals who work for us are aware of their responsibilities relating to social media. We have appropriate internal processes in place if required.’

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