Gary Lineker hits back after home secretary says his migrant policy remarks were 'irresponsible'

Gary Lineker has said it is "great to see the freedom of speech champions come out in force" after the home secretary branded his comments about the government's new asylum policy as "irresponsible".

Suella Braverman told ITV's Good Morning Britain she was "very disappointed" after Lineker said the "immeasurably cruel policy" had been directed at "the most vulnerable people in language that is not dissimilar to that used by Germany in the 30s".

Ms Braverman said: "Equating our measures - which are lawful, necessary and fundamentally compassionate - to 1930s Germany is irresponsible and I disagree with that characterisation."

Asked if the Match Of The Day presenter should resign or be sacked, she said: "That's a matter for the BBC and they will resolve that."

She invited Lineker to visit England's ports to "see what the communities in Kent and Dover and actually all around the UK are feeling about this issue".

A BBC source told the Press Association news agency that the corporation is taking the matter of Lineker's initial tweets "seriously" and expects to have a "frank conversation" with the 62-year-old former England striker.

A spokesperson for the broadcaster, which has impartiality guidelines, had earlier said Lineker will be "reminded of his responsibilities on social media".

It comes after Lineker shared a Twitter video put out by Ms Braverman in which she unveiled government plans to stop migrant boats crossing the Channel.

"Good heavens, this is beyond awful," Lineker wrote.

Another Twitter user, responding to Lineker's post, described his comment as "out of order", adding that it was "easy to pontificate when it doesn't affect you".

Lineker responded: "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?"

In an apparent joke about the reaction from Ms Braverman and other Conservative MPs to his tweet, the former Tottenham striker tweeted this morning: "Morning all. Anything going on?"

He then tweeted: "Great to see the freedom of speech champions out in force this morning demanding silence from those with whom they disagree."

Minutes later he posted in a follow-up tweet: "I have never known such love and support in my life than I'm getting this morning (England World Cup goals aside, possibly). I want to thank each and every one of you. It means a lot. I'll continue to try and speak up for those poor souls that have no voice. Cheers all."

It comes after immigration minister Robert Jenrick joined Ms Braverman in criticising Lineker and told Times Radio: "My children are the grandchildren of Holocaust survivors and I think those sorts of words should not be thrown around lightly.

"Gary Lineker is paid for by the British taxpayer and it's disappointing that he is so far out of step with the British public."

Read more:
Rishi Sunak says migrants crackdown needed
What's the plan to stop people in small boats claiming asylum?
Gary Lineker to adhere to new BBC impartiality rules after signing deal

Conservative Party deputy chairman, Lee Anderson, wrote on Twitter: "This is just another example of how out of touch these overpaid stars are with the voting public.

"Instead of lecturing, Mr Lineker should stick to reading out the football scores and flogging crisps."

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said she does not think it is "right to make comparisons with the 1930s" after the comments but "people can have their own views".

BBC director-general Tim Davie previously warned staff over their use of social media when he took on the role at the end of 2020, and guidelines around social media use have since been updated.

Staff were told they need to follow editorial guidelines and editorial oversight in the same way as when they create BBC content.

A spokesman for the corporation said: "The BBC has social media guidance, which is published. Individuals who work for us are aware of their responsibilities relating to social media.

"We have appropriate internal processes in place if required."

Click to subscribe to the Sky News Daily wherever you get your podcasts

Lineker has fallen foul of the broadcaster's impartiality guidelines in the past.

In October, the BBC's executive complaints unit ruled that Lineker had breached its rules with a tweet about Russia and the Conservative Party.

On that occasion, the complaints team ruled that although Lineker was not a journalist, he had an additional responsibility for impartiality under the BBC's guidance which states high standards apply to those "who nevertheless have an additional responsibility to the BBC because of their profile on the BBC".