LINEKER’S PLAYING THE BBC FOR FOOLS
Unrepentant star mocks ‘ridiculous’ row over tweets ++ As bosses dither, he renews attack on ministers ++ Boasts he WILL be on TV tomorrow
GARY Lineker was accused last night of ‘thumbing his nose’ at the BBC with further social media posts.
more than 48 hours after he likened the government’s migrant crackdown to nazi germany, corporation chiefs had still not decided what to do about their defiant star. Tory mPs branded the situation a ‘farce’ as Lineker kept up his politicised comments.
The former England striker insisted the row was ‘ridiculously out of proportion’ and even suggested he would be allowed to host match of the Day this weekend.
his comments came despite a well-placed BBc source stressing: ‘he’s not absolved, it’s not over.’
home Secretary Suella Braverman, whose husband is Jewish, said his attack on her migration plans had ‘diminished the unspeakable tragedy’ of the holocaust.
Lineker took another Twitter swipe at the conservatives yesterday, telling Penny mordaunt he was ‘better in the six-yard box than
you are at the dispatch box’. One MP said the presenter, who is the BBC’s highest paid star on £1.35million a year, was ‘ laughing at everybody’. Another suggested he did not appear to be ‘interested’ in what his bosses had to say.
On Tuesday night BBC sources claimed Lineker, 62, would be rebuked ‘very promptly’. But there has been no statement from the corporation since.
The row erupted on Tuesday after Lineker shared a video of Mrs Braverman outlining her Illegal Migration Bill, and commented: ‘Good heavens, this is beyond awful.’ He also accused her of putting forward an ‘immeasurably cruel policy directed at the most vulnerable people in language that is not dissimilar to that used by Germany in the 30s’.
On Wednesday he doubled down on his remarks, saying he had never known such ‘love and support’ and would ‘continue to try and speak up’.
Yesterday he wrote on social media: ‘Well, it’s been an interesting couple of days. Happy that this ridiculously out of proportion story seems to be abating and very much looking forward to presenting BBC Match of the Day on Saturday. Thanks again for all your incredible support. It’s been overwhelming.’
Later he criticised Ms Mordaunt after she likened the Labour Party to him. He attacked her ‘clumsy analogy’ and criticised her parliamentary skills.
Mrs Braverman told BBC presenter Nick Robinson’s Political Thinking podcast that Lineker’s comments on Tuesday were ‘offensive’ to those affected by the Holocaust.
She added: ‘To 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.’
Tory MP Brendan Clarke- Smith accused Lineker of ‘spouting student union level politics’. He added: ‘He now thinks he is untouchable and has no worries of any sort of rebuke from the BBC. He’s laughing at everybody.’
Former Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith said: ‘This is turning into a farce and the BBC needs to decide what they are going to do and quickly.’
Fellow Conservative MP Peter Bone added: ‘He’s thumbing his nose at the BBC and he really isn’t interested in what they have to say.’
BBC insiders said Lineker had ‘passed the tipping point’ and there was growing discontent in its news division about his social media antics. Corporation journalists are said to be ‘boiling’ with anger that his tweets flout strict impartiality rules they have to follow.
Yesterday morning Lineker told reporters he did not fear suspension. When asked if he had spoken to the BBC, he replied: ‘I’m always talking to the BBC.’
Asked if he had spoken to director-general Tim Davie, he said, after a pause, ‘Yeah’ before adding: ‘Well we chat often.’ He also said he stood by his 1930s Germany tweet.
But the BBC’s former controller of editorial policy, Richard Ayre, said Mr Davie might have to remove him.
He told Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘I don’t think he is going to have any choice but to let him go unless he can be certain that this is the end of it.’
Lineker has received support from fellow celebrity Piers Morgan.
He said: ‘He’s not a BBC news journalist, he’s not anchoring The News at 10 or Question Time or Newsnight, he’s a football presenter doing Match of the Day and other major sporting events.
‘He’s a celebrity and a public figure, his eight-and-a-half million followers want to know what he thinks about stuff. Why do we pretend that people like him exist in a sealed BBC bubble?’
Lineker’s spokesman did not comment.