Gary Lineker responds after BBC ‘frank conversation’ over tweet comparing UK asylum policy to Nazi Germany
Gary Lineker has mocked “free speech champions” critcising remarks he made about the government’s crackdown on illegal migration.
The Match of the Day presenter was due to be spoken to by BBC bosses after he apparently compared the government’s Illegal Migration Bill to Nazi Germany.
Mr Lineker, writing in a tweet on Wednesday morning, said: “Great to see the freedom of speech champions out in force this morning demanding silence from those with whom they disagree.”
His tweet did not refer to anyone specifically but it may have been directed towards some campaigners and Tory MPs who have in the past voiced their support for free speech.
Lee Anderson, the Tory Party chairman, was among those criticising Mr Lineker’s comments, accusing him of “lecturing”.
He said: “This is just another example of how out of touch these overpaid stars are with the voting public. Instead of lecturing, Mr Lineker should stick to reading out the football scores and flogging crisps.”
Mr Anderson has written about free speech on his website. ‘Stop the “Woke Express Train”, I want to get off,’ the title of the article reads.
He writes that there is a “tiny section” of society that “goes out of their way every single day looking for things that may upset them”.
Mr Lineker commented on a Twitter video put out by home secretary Suella Braverman, in which she unveiled government plans to stop migrant boats crossing the Channel.
“Good heavens, this is beyond awful,” the star football presenter wrote.
Responding to someone who said he was “out of order”, the presenter responded: “There is no huge influx. We take far fewer refugees than other major European countries.”
Mr Lineker added: “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?”
Tory MPs called the Match Of The Day host’s comments “foul, ill-conceived and disgraceful” and called on the broadcaster to take action. Suella Braverman, the home secretary and Robert Jenrick, the immigration minister, were among other Conservatives criticsing Mr Lineker’s remarks.
The presenter will be “reminded of his responsibilities on social media” by the corporation following the he sent on Tuesday, the broadcaster said.
His comments were widely condemned by Tory politicians, who urged the BBC to take action.
Asked about Mr Lineker’s comments, Ms Braverman told Sky News: “I’m disappointed. It’s unhelpful to compare our measures to 1930s Germany. We’re on the side of the British people here.”
Robert Jenrick, the Tory immigration minister, told Times Radio that Mr Lineker is “so far out of step” with what the public want to be done regarding small boat crossings.
“My children are the grandchildren of Holocaust survivors, and I think those sorts of words should not be thrown around lightly,” said the minister. “Gary Lineker is paid for by the British taxpayer.”