George Osborne thinks Gary Lineker has had a good week.
George Osborne has said some of the language used by Tories on immigration is “unacceptable”.
In it, the former England striker said some of the language used by ministers on the issue was like “Germany in the 1930s”.
Lineker was dropped from presenting last night’s Match of the Day, leading to a mass boycott by many of his colleagues and throwing the BBC sports coverage into chaos.
On Channel 4′s Andrew Neil Show, Osborne said Lineker “will feel he’s a had a good week because he’s pulled off that rare trick - he’s become a martyr without actually having to be burned at the stake because it looks like he might be returning to the BBC”.
He added: “I think Gary Lineker, if you’ve taken a penalty for England in a World Cup final, you’ll be able to withstand this kind of pressure, so he’s stuck to what he feels strongly about.
“And personally, I think some of the language used on immigration by some Conservatives - not all - is not acceptable.”
Home secretary Suella Braverman has been criticised for saying the UK faced an “invasion” of asylum seekers cross the English Channel on small boats.
Osborne said he hoped Lineker and Tim Davie, the BBC’s director general, will be able to settle their differences.
He said: “It’s a mess - Gary Lineker’s made his point, he should help the BBC find a ladder down which to climb.”
Gary Lineker’s had a ‘good week’ according to @George_Osborne
He tells @AFNeil that ‘some of the language used on immigration by some Conservatives… is not acceptable’ but @GaryLineker ‘should help the BBC find a ladder down which to climb’ #AndrewNeilShow
C4, 6.15pm pic.twitter.com/HH793IOgZF
— Channel 4 (@Channel4) March 12, 2023
Tim Davie said he was seeking a resolution to the dispute with Lineker, but insisted he will not resign over his handling of the affair.
He said: “I think my job is to serve licence fee payers and deliver a BBC that is really focused on world-class, impartial landmark output – and I look forward to resolving this situation and looking forward to delivering that.”
But Lineker’s son, George, has said his dad will not back down over the row.
He told the Sunday Mirror: “Dad is a good man, a good human, and I’m proud of him for standing by his word. That’s why he was pulled off the show – because he wouldn’t apologise. But he will always speak up for people who don’t have a voice.
“He is passionate about helping refugee charities – he took in two refugees who he is still in touch with and trying to help.”