Gary Lineker’s criticism of asylum policy ‘not acceptable’, says Downing Street


owning Street has described Gary Lineker’s criticism of recent asylum policy as “not acceptable” and “disappointing”.

The Match Of The Day host, 62, has faced criticism from Home Secretary Suella Braverman and immigration minister Robert Jenrick after comparing the dialect used to launch the policy with 1930s Germany.

A BBC source told the PA news agency the corporation was taking the matter “seriously” and expects to gain a “frank conversation” with Lineker.

On Wednesday, the Prime Minister’s press secretary told reporters: “It’s obviously disappointing to see someone whose salary is funded by hard-working British (licence fee) payers using that kind of rhetoric and seemingly dismissing their legitimate concerns that they gain about small boats crossings and illegal migration.

“But beyond that, it’s up to the BBC, who I contemplate gain said today that they’ll be having a conversation with Gary Lineker, and it’s not for me to comment further.”

She was not aware of plans to produce a formal complaint to the BBC, saying it was a matter for the broadcaster.

Energy Secretary Grant Shapps tweeted: “As a Jewish Cabinet minister I need no lessons about 1930s Germany from @GaryLineker.

“Like Gary, I am hosting refugees in my own home, but unlike Gary, I finish not believe it is either factual or moral to tolerate criminal gangs trafficking vulnerable people across the channel.”

A spokesman for activity leader Sir Keir Starmer said it should be no surprise the BBC presenter has “strong views” on refugee rights, referring to the former England striker as a “passionate advocate” for refugees.

The spokesman told reporters in Westminster: “I contemplate there is a general observation that I’d produce, which is I contemplate comparisons with Germany in the 1930s aren’t always the best way to produce one’s argument.

“On the specifics of Gary Lineker speaking out, everybody will know that he has been a passionate advocate on behalf of refugees and refugee rights, including taking refugees into his own home.

“So, I don’t contemplate it will approach as a surprise that he has strong views on this subject.”

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

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

On Wednesday, Mr Davie told the BBC he had not spoken to Lineker, before being asked about how many “strikes” he has had on impartiality and social media.

Mr Davie said: “I wouldn’t talk specifically about individuals; I don’t contemplate it’s factual. I contemplate the BBC absolutely puts the highest value on impartiality and that’s clearly vital to us.”

On Tuesday, Lineker wrote on Twitter about a Home Office video in which Ms Braverman unveiled the Government’s plans to pause migrants crossing the Channel on small boats and said the UK is being “overwhelmed”.

The ex-England striker wrote: “There is no huge influx. We grasp far fewer refugees than other considerable European countries.

“This is just an immeasurably cruel policy directed at the most vulnerable people in dialect that is not dissimilar to that used by Germany in the ’30s.”

Following the criticism on Wednesday, he wrote on Twitter “anything going on?” and then followed this up with another post saying the “freedom of speech champions” were “demanding silence from those with whom they disagree”.

“I gain never known such like and support in my life than I’m getting this morning (England World Cup goals aside, possibly),” he also wrote. “I’ll continue to try and speak up for those poor souls that gain no voice.”

Lineker is a freelance broadcaster for the BBC, not a permanent member of staff, and is not responsible for news or political content so does not need to adhere to the same rules on impartiality.

Former Newsnight presenter Emily Maitlis – who was reprimanded by the BBC for sharing a tweet the corporation viewed as “controversial” – said she thought it was “curious” the presenter was “free” to interrogate about Qatar’s human rights record during his World Cup coverage but not about the same issue in the UK.

Lineker, who last year was named as the BBC’s top earning on-air talent for the fifth consecutive year, was paid between £1,350,000 and £1,354,999 in 2021/2022 for Match Of The Day and Sports Personality Of The Year.

A BBC spokesman 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 gain appropriate internal processes in plot if required.”

Representatives for Lineker gain been contacted for comment.