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8 March 2023

Gary Lineker’s pre-emptive strike at BBC head Tim Davie

No one is going to stop the presenter tweeting his opinion.

By The Chatterer

Gary Lineker’s latest politically charged tweet – yesterday likening the government’s asylum policy to “Germany in the 1930s” – should have come as no surprise to BBC bosses. The corporation said the Match of the Day host would be “spoken to” about his comment as the right-wing press bays for Lineker to be shown a red card. 

But Lineker is unlikely to be overly concerned. In an interview with the New Statesman last year, he said of the director-general Tim Davie: “I don’t think he’ll ever stop me talking about politics. I don’t think he wants to stop me talking about politics, either.” This was after Davie, grilled on Lineker’s tweets before a select committee hearing, said that reining the presenter in was a “work in progress”. “So’s Tim,” was Lineker’s response in his NS interview. 

Lineker’s political tweets are known to irk colleagues who feel he should keep his focus on football. Last summer Neil Henderson, a senior journalist in the BBC newsroom, challenged Lineker on Twitter, telling him: “The BBC lives or dies by its impartiality. If you can’t abide it, get off it.” Henderson later deleted his tweets and apologised.

Colleagues appear to be keeping schtum for now. But the Chatterer did note that Nick Robinson, on Wednesday morning’s Today programme, invited the Home Secretary Suella Braverman to comment on whether the BBC should sack Lineker.

Braverman didn’t bite, merely telling Robinson: “I’m obviously disappointed that he should attempt to equate our measures with 1930s Germany. I don’t think that’s an appropriate way of framing the debate.”

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[See also: Rishi Sunak’s anti-asylum plan may not be as politically beneficial as he hopes]

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