Suella Braverman today publicly slapped down Gary Lineker after he compared her migrant boats crackdown to the policies in Nazi Germany in the 1930s as critics calling for his sacking demanded to know: ‘Why is he allowed to get away with it?’
The corporation’s highest-paid star, who earns £1.35million a year from the licence fee payer, will be ‘spoken to’ by his bosses today – but viewers and MPs insist he’s gone too far and must be fired for another impartiality breach.
Speaking today the Home Secretary said she felt that Mr Lineker’s comments were ‘disappointing’. She told the BBC: ‘I think it’s unhelpful to compare our measures, which are lawful, proportionate and – indeed – compassionate, to 1930s Germany’.
The Match of the Day host has been repeatedly told off by the BBC about 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 tweets on the government and Brexit.
Tory MP Michael Fabricant demanded to know why the BBC was allowing Lineker to ‘get away with it’. ‘Lineker’s ignorant ‘Nazi’ comments have not only upset MPs, many in the Jewish community think it crass while other broadcasters ask why is Lineker allowed to get away with it? I do too,’ he told MailOnline.
Tory deputy chairman Lee Anderson said: ‘The BBC should disassociate themselves from these types of comments and ask themselves the question “is this the type of comment they expect from their publicly funded presenters?”
Gary Lineker ‘crossed a line’ by comparing Suella Braverman’s migrant crackdown 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
‘Instead of lecturing, Mr Lineker should stick to reading out the football scores and flogging crisps. This is just another example of how out of touch these overpaid stars are with the voting public’.
Gary Lineker’s long list of Twitter controversies
Gary 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, 61, used Twitter to quote an article about Liz Truss – then the 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 8.5million followers on Twitter, added: ‘And her party will hand back their donations from Russian donors?’.
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.
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.’
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.’
The BBC said early 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 Lineker. 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’.
Lineker had 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, with 8.6million followers, 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’.
Ms Braverman was on TV and radio today defending her bill, and had a dig at Lineker in the process.
Suella Braverman 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.”
defended her controversial claim to MPs that “there are 100 million 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 100 million 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.’
The row about Lineker’s tweets 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.
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, the presenter 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 undergone 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, The Times reported. Conservative MP Jonathan Gullis (right), said the BBC 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.’