Gary Lineker will not present Match of the Day this weekend after the BBC decided his tweet comparing the Government’s migration plans to Nazi Germany breached impartiality rules.
Lineker will ‘step back’ from presenting the popular football show, pending further discussions between the star and BBC bosses about his use of social media, the corporation said.
The Match of the Day host accused ministers of using ‘language that is not dissimilar to that used by Germany in the 1930s’.
The spokesperson said: ‘The BBC has been in extensive discussions with Gary and his team in recent days. We have said that we consider his recent social media activity to be a breach of our guidelines.
‘The BBC has decided that he will step back from presenting Match of the Day until we’ve got an agreed and clear position on his use of social media.
‘When it comes to leading our football and sports coverage, Gary is second to none. We have never said that Gary should be an opinion free zone, or that he can’t have a view on issues that matter to him, but we have said that he should keep well away from taking sides on party political issues or political controversies.’
The BBC has faced repeated calls to sack Lineker over his anti-Tory tweets, while Foreign Secretary James Cleverly this morning swiped that the ex-England footballer was ‘desperate to gain attention’.
But Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, speaking on a visit to Glasgow, defended Lineker’s right to make his political views known.
Gary Lineker accused ministers of using ‘language that is not dissimilar to that used by Germany in the 1930s’
‘I wouldn’t personally say what Gary Lineker has said, but I would defend his right to say it,’ the Labour leader said.
‘What I see here is a Government that hasn’t got a proper answer in relation to control of our borders and is looking around, as it always does, to other people to blame, Gary Lineker, the BBC, civil servants, anybody.
‘I think anybody watching this will be crying out for a government that actually says ‘There’s a problem here, it’s a problem of our making, we’re going to stand up and we’re going to fix it’.
‘The sooner we can get back to that grown-up approach and not just casting blame around the better.’
Lineker has refused to step down and the BBC has yet to take action against him over his outburst.
Mr Cleverly urged the ex-sportsman to study history ‘a little bit more carefully’ in the wake of his Nazi Germany jibe.
Speaking to LBC from Paris, where the PM and his top team met their French counterparts today, the Foreign Secretary said: ‘There are some people desperate to gain attention by using deeply offensive and inappropriate language about this.
‘I would gently suggest they read their history books a little bit more carefully. The simple truth of the matter is the UK is a welcoming and hospitable country.’
Former culture secretary Nadine Dorries also weighed in. The TV host and MP said that failure to fire Lineker would mean the BBC was only paying ‘lip service’ to its remit of impartiality.
Foreign Secretary James Cleverly, on a visit to Paris, this morning swiped that the ex-England footballer was ‘desperate to gain attention’
Rishi Sunak himself, who travelled by train for the UK-France summit, insisted his Government’s actions over the Channel migrant crisis were the ‘compassionate thing to do’
Former culture secretary Nadine Dorries claimed failure to fire Lineker would mean the BBC was only paying ‘lip service’ to its remit of impartiality
Mr Sunak himself insisted his Government’s actions on the Channel migrant crisis were the ‘moral and compassionate thing to do’.
‘I strongly believe that what we’re doing is the right thing to do,’ the PM said today, when asked about Mr Lineker’s intervention.
‘I think it’s the fair thing to do and I actually believe that it’s the moral and compassionate thing to do, and I’ve made that argument multiple times.
‘I’ll continue to make it and I think actually the more people think about this challenge and how best to address it they will see that it is the right approach.
‘And actually I was pleased that there was actually quite a lot of strong support for the approach we’ve outlined now that we’ve outlined it, because this is about thinking what’s the best way to help the world’s most vulnerable people.’
Yesterday Home Secreary Suella Braverman accused Lineker of diminishing the tragedy of the Holocaust as ministers engaged in an open row with the BBC star.
Mrs Braverman said she found the comments ‘offensive’ because her husband is Jewish.
‘My children are therefore directly descendant from people who were murdered in gas chambers during the Holocaust,’ she told the BBC’s Political Thinking podcast.
‘To kind of throw out those kind of flippant analogies diminishes the unspeakable tragedy that millions of people went through and I don’t think anything that is happening in the UK today can come close to what happened in the Holocaust.
‘So I find it a lazy and unhelpful comparison to make.’
House of Commons leader Penny Mordaunt claimed Labour were ‘borrowing from the Gary Lineker playbook’ by being the ‘party of goal hangers’ taking easy shots against the Government.
The ex-England striker hit back at Ms Mordaunt’s ‘clumsy analogy’, saying he was ‘just happy to have been better in the six-yard box than you are at the dispatch box’.
Lineker has said he is looking forward to presenting Match of the Day this weekend despite the ‘ridiculously out of proportion story’ surrounding his comments.
Criticising the Government’s new asylum plans earlier this week, he tweeted: ‘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.’
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