Mordaunt accuses Labour of ‘borrowing from Gary Lineker’s playbook’

Penny Mordaunt has accused Labour of “borrowing from the Gary Lineker playbook” in its criticism of the Government’s plans to stop small boat Channel crossings.

The Commons Leader said the Opposition is a “party of goal hangers” who are “poised to seize any opportunities and to take an easy shot”.

Instead, Ms Mordaunt added, the country needs “centre forwards” who “put in the hard work” and take “tough decisions” – something she said the Government is doing.

Lineker, whose 48 goals for England make him the fourth-highest scorer for the men’s national side, has said he stands by his criticism of the Government’s new immigration policy.

He compared the language used to launch the Illegal Migration Bill with 1930s Germany.

MPs will debate the Bill at second reading on Monday March 13.

It includes proposals to ban migrants who come to the UK by unauthorised means from staying in the country, which critics have suggested could breach human rights laws.

A shout of “Shameful” was heard from a Labour MP when Ms Mordaunt announced the business.

Ms Mordaunt told MPs: “Labour are borrowing from the Gary Lineker playbook. They are a party of goal hangers and the occasional left wing striker, hanging around the goal mouth, poised to seize any opportunities and to take an easy shot.

“But that only works if the ball is in the right half. This country doesn’t need goal hangers, it needs centre forwards. It needs people that put in the hard work, take tough decisions, grip a problem and work out how to solve it and create those opportunities. That is what we are doing.”

On Twitter, Lineker responded: “Thank you for mentioning me in your clumsy analogy. I’m just happy to have been better in the 6 yard box than you are at the dispatch box. Best wishes.”

Shadow Commons leader Thangam Debbonaire earlier claimed the Government has failed on multiple occasions to tackle the issue through new tougher laws.

She told the Commons: “A week is supposed to be a long time in politics but, when it comes to Tory promises on small boats, in 86 weeks nothing has changed.

“Six-hundred-and-two days ago, in the very place where the Leader stood just now, her predecessor-but-one announced the second reading of the Nationality and Borders Bill.

“The Government’s promises on small boats then are the same as we hear now: ‘We want to stop the dangerous crossings, we want to’.”

Prime Minister’s Questions
Shadow Commons leader Thangam Debbonaire said the Government has failed on multiple occasions to tackle the issue of small boat crossings through new tougher laws (House of Commons/PA)

Ms Debbonaire added: “Treating legislation and precious time in this House as nothing more than a feeding frenzy, with Bill after Bill chucking red meat for a noisy minority of their own backbenchers.

“Is this an attempt to whip up support for a weak and failing leadership? Is this the best her party has to offer the country?”

The Bill could make its way quickly through the Commons, where the Government has a majority, but it may face protracted debate in the House of Lords.

Other controversial Bills, such as the Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill and the Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Bill, swiftly cleared the Commons but are currently undergoing multiple days of scrutiny by peers.

Elsewhere during the session, SNP Westminster leader Deidre Brock also condemned the Government’s immigration policy, as she argued that Lineker “speaks for many, many more” than Tory Party deputy chairman Lee Anderson.

She said: “A couple of weeks ago the Leader praised the MP for Ashfield, claiming he spoke for many within Britain. He, of course, voiced support for capital punishment and instructed the poor and vulnerable on how they could subsist on a pittance if only they tried harder.

“Well, Gary Lineker clearly speaks for many, many more judging from the reactions when he voiced his revulsion at the language around the Government’s latest migration Bill.”