Twitter Is Asking: Why We Are Talking About Gary Lineker Instead Of The Actual Migrant Bill?

After all, the Match of the Day host is not the one who decides national asylum policy.
Suella Braverman and Rishi Sunak were the ones behind the controversial bill, not Gary Lineker
Suella Braverman and Rishi Sunak were the ones behind the controversial bill, not Gary Lineker

Gary Lineker has been pushed to the forefront of the row around the government’s new controversial Illegal Migration Bill, just because of a single tweet.

The Match of the Day host is a BBC figurehead, and as of last year was the corporation’s highest-paid presenter – so when he shared an outspoken tweet about government policy, it instantly drew criticism for not following BBC impartiality rules.

Responding to home secretary Suella Braverman’s video about how the government will be cracking down on refugees, Lineker 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?”

Braverman has been accused of using inflammatory language around refugees and migrants by critics ever since she said there was an “invasion” of people arriving on UK shores via small boats.

This week, she also claimed there were 100 million refugees around the world who are “coming here” as refugees.

Amid the backlash to Lineker’s tweet, the BBC promised to have a “frank conversation” about impartiality with the host – although Lineker said on Thursday morning that he did not fear getting suspended and stood by his comment.

He also tweeted: “I’ll continue to try and speak up for those pool souls that have no choice.”

There was also a wave of support for the former footballer on Twitter for calling out the government over its controversial approach.

But, when the fallout over the tweet rather the actual migrant policies hit the top headlines for the day, people were understandably bewildered.

The government has even admitted that it might be breaking international law with its own proposed migrant policy this week by putting the home secretary’s duty to remove asylum seekers above their human right to apply for asylum in the UK.

Lineker does not come up with government policy after all, and works in football commentary rather than politics.

He was notably not criticised by his employers when he spoke out about Qatar’s questionable human rights record live on air during the World Cup in November, and has often tweeted about politics from his personal Twitter account.

And the topic of impartiality inevitably meant the ongoing furore around the BBC chair Richard Sharp came up.

Sharp is a Tory donor and former boss of the current PM, Sunak.

It was revealed back in January that Sharp helped find a guarantor for then-PM Boris Johnson when he was looking to take out a £800,000 loan – and shortly afterwards was appointed to the top job at the BBC.

Labour’s Cliff Efford also asked in the Commons this week: “Which is greater evidence of political bias – Gary Lineker criticising the government language from his private Twitter account or the chairman of the BBC giving donations to the Tory Party?”


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