Foreign Secretary Insists UK Is 'Welcoming' Amid Gary Lineker Immigration Row

James Cleverly suggested Gary Lineker read the “history books”.
Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs James Cleverly.
Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs James Cleverly.
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James Cleverly has insisted the UK is a “welcoming and hospitable” country as he waded into the Gary Lineker row.

The foreign secretary said Britain had some of the best race relations in the world when asked about Lineker’s comments on the government’s immigration crackdown.

Lineker is at the centre of an impartiality row after he said some of the language used by government was “not dissimilar to that used by Germany in the 30s”.

The former England striker has been criticised by ministers, among others, and has faced calls for the BBC to sack him as a presenter.

Asked about the row, Cleverly told LBC’s Nick Ferrari: “There are some people desperate to gain attention by using deeply offensive and inappropriate language about this and I would gently suggest they read the history books a little bit more carefully.

“The simple truth of the matter is the UK is a welcoming and hospitable country. Our race relations are some of the best in the world.

“This is not about me, but I look across the table at my parliamentary colleagues, my colleagues around the Cabinet table, and the ethnic diversity at the top of the UK government is a direct result of generations of hospitality and generosity by the British people to others from around the world and that is not going to change.”

Lineker has said he is looking forward to presenting the BBC’s Match Of The Day this weekend despite the “ridiculously out of proportion story” surrounding his comments.

Criticising the asylum plan 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.”

MPs will debate the Illegal Migration Bill on Monday. If approved by Parliament, anyone who crosses the Channel in a small boat would be barred from ever re-entering the UK and would only be eligible for asylum in a “safe” third country, such as Rwanda.

Powers would be granted to detain migrants for 28 days without recourse for bail or judicial review, and then indefinitely for as long as there is a “reasonable prospect” of removal.


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