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Gary Lineker REFUSES to back down from his support for asylum seekers as he faces BBC backlash!

Gary Lineker has recently found himself facing a backlash from the BBC after he made comments surrounding the government’s new immigration control policies.

The BBC said yesterday that they were having a “frank conversation” with Lineker over his comments that compared the UK government’s immigration policies to 1930s Germany. 

He said that the language used in the government’s plan was “not dissimilar to that used by Germany in the 1930s”. The BBC has “impartiality guidelines” and thus decided that they had to speak with Lineker following his criticism of the government’s plans.

On Tuesday, the government set out its plans to ban anyone arriving by an “illegal” route from claiming asylum in the UK. This is part of their process to address an increase in the number of people arriving in the UK via channel crossings – a figure which rose from around 300 in 2018 to over 45,000 in 2022. 

Lineker responded to a video message by Ms Braverman, the Home Secretary, who was outlining the policy with a tweet reading “Good heavens, this is beyond awful”

During the video, Ms Braverman used phrases such as “enough is enough” and “we must stop the boats”. One can almost imagine her banging her fist on the table, Mussolini style, as she makes these claims.

Another Twitter user responded to Lineker, claiming that the former England star turned pundit was “out of order” – to which he responded with the simple fact that the UK takes in far fewer refugees than other major European countries.

Lineker went on to describe the plans as “just an immeasurably cruel policy directed at the most vulnerable people”

He has vocalised his support for migrant’s rights previously and has even taken refugees into his own home to play his part. It is also not the first time that he has ruffled feathers at the BBC with his comments.

The organisation found Lineker to have broken their “impartiality rules” when he tweeted asking whether the Conservative party planned to “hand back their donations from Russian donors”.

This was in response to Liz Truss asked Premier League teams to boycott the Champions League final in Russia over the war with Ukraine. Whilst many thought that his question was completely fair, given that Truss was asking the Premier League to cut ties themselves, it landed the presenter in hot water.

In 2018, the BBC’s cricket correspondent Jonathan Agnew asked Lineker to “keep your political views…to yourself”. The former England striker responded with “I’m in the face of my own Twitter account. I’ll continue to tweet what I like and if folk disagree with me then so be it”

Following Lineker’s comments surrounding the new immigration policies, the Home Secretary said on BBC One’s Breakfast Show that she was disappointed, and that comparing the government’s new measures to 1930s Germany “unhelpful”

She also went on to say that she believed that the policies were “compassionate” and “lawful” and that the government was “on the side of the British people here”. Where the “compassion” is to be found in these plans remains to be seen, although Braverman stands by her statement.

Now, broadcaster Richard Ayre has said that Lineker must decide whether he is to stay at the BBC, or leave “and become a social media influencer”

In response to the criticism from Downing Street and members of the public alike, Lineker highlighted the hypocrisy on display, as those who agree with the immigration policies fight to silence his views. 

He tweeted “Great to see the freedom of speech champions out in force this morning demanding silence from those with whom they disagree”

He also added that he was overwhelmed with the support shown to him by people who are taking a compassionate stance against the government’s iron-fist approach to asylum seekers, thanking them for their support. 

Lineker also reiterated his stance on his compassion for those seeking asylum in the UK, saying “I’ll continue to try and speak up for those poor souls who have no voice”

It is not clear as of yet what the BBC will do in regards to the comments Lineker has made. He is the their highest paid star, having presented Match of the Day since 1998. He clearly isn’t prepared to abandon his views on the subject, many of which those with any kind of compassion for others will agree with.

BBC director general, Tim Davie said in 2020 that he was ready to fire people to protect the their reputation for impartiality – an impartiality that is bought into question following their rebuttal of Lineker’s recent comments.

Mr Davie said that he was prepared to “take people off Twitter” – a statement to which Lineker responded “I think only Twitter can take people off of Twitter”

Whatever the case, props must be given to the former England star both for his bravery to stand up for those who are fleeing terrible situations and looking for a life of peace in the UK, as well as his resilience to the backlash that he has received form his peers and the public. 

Whether or not he remains a BBC presenter matters little in light of the integrity he has shown standing up for vulnerable people and refusing to abandon his comments. The conversation of how immigration should be handled is hugely important, and having people like Lineker speak out in support of the human lives involved, as opposed to the economics often leant on by the government, is crucial to making sure that we as a country do what is right and humane.