Farage’s audience boos after Gary Lineker comment
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THE BBC was under pressure last night to make unrepentant Gary Lineker apologise for an “offensive” Nazi slur aimed at the Home Secretary. Sources say bosses are struggling to work out how it should respond to a storm caused by the host’s tweet, which linked Suella Braverman’s new immigration plan to 1930s Germany.
Mrs Braverman led a chorus of Cabinet anger over his “flippant” and “lazy” comments, with ministers calling for action following the £1.35million-a-year presenter’s refusal to follow strict impartiality rules.
Demands grew for the BBC to act against the ex-England football ace as she accused him of “diminishing” the Holocaust in his social media comments about her small boats crackdown.
Lineker brushed off the row last night as “out of proportion”.
He said that he stood by his comments, did not fear suspension and would host Match of the Day tomorrow.
But the Daily Express understands the issue is still not settled as to how to respond.
Mrs Braverman hit back yesterday in an interview for the BBC’s Political Thinking podcast.
She said: “I think it is, from a personal point of view, to hear that characterisation is offensive because, as you said, my husband is Jewish, my children are therefore direct descendants from people who were murdered in gas chambers during the Holocaust.
“And my husband’s family is very, feels very, keenly the impact of the Holocaust actually.
“To kind of throw out those kind of flippant analogies diminishes the unspeakable tragedy that millions of people went through and I don’t think anything that is happening in the UK today can come close to what happened in the Holocaust. So I find it a lazy and unhelpful comparison to make.”
Staff at the corporation have been left seething over the £1.35 million presenter’s refusal to follow strict impartiality rules.
The Match of the Day host broke cover to tell reporters that stood by his comments and he did not fear suspension.
Lineker later said on social media that he was “looking forward” to hosting the football programme this weekend.
He said: “Well, it’s been an interesting couple of days. Happy that this ridiculously out of proportion story seems to be abating and very much looking forward to presenting MOTD on Saturday. Thanks again for all your incredible support. It’s been overwhelming.”
The row was sparked by Lineker’s response on Twitter to a Home Office video in which Mrs Braverman unveiled the Government’s plans to stop migrants crossing the Channel on small boats.
The ex-England striker wrote: “There is no huge influx. We take far fewer refugees than other major European countries.
“This is just an immeasurably cruel policy directed at the most vulnerable people in language that is not dissimilar to that used by Germany in the ’30s.”
Mrs Braverman is one of three Cabinet ministers who yesterday hit out at the presenter.
Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer said the BBC must remain impartial if it is to “retain the trust of the public who pay the licence fee”.
She said: “As somebody whose grandmother escaped Nazi Germany in the 1930s, I think it’s really disappointing and inappropriate to compare Government policy on immigration to events in Germany in the 1930s.
“It’s important for the BBC to maintain impartiality if it is to retain the trust of the public who pay the licence fee.
“The BBC is operationally independent and I’m pleased that the BBC will be speaking to Gary Lineker, to remind him of his responsibilities in relation to social media.”
Lineker later responded to Commons Leader Penny Mordaunt on Twitter after she accused Labour of borrowing from his “playbook” by being the “party of goal hangers”.
He tweeted: “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.”
Last night Miss Mordaunt told the Daily Express: “I sincerely hope both he and the BBC remain national treasures but I think this is a case of poor judgment and bad governance.”
Last year the presenter was named as the BBC’s top-earning on-air talent for the fifth consecutive year.
Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg, who has a show on GB News, told the Daily Express: “If the BBC didn’t have the licence fee it wouldn’t matter, but it is supposed to be independent and people who represent it need to be independent.
“So, it’s a BBC problem, not Lineker having silly views.
“If it were a commercial organisation it wouldn’t matter what the views of the people representing it were.
“I think the licence fee should be phased out and then they can do what they like.
“This is a reminder of why the licence fee is a burden for the BBC because it limits the BBC’s flexibility.
“I’m not concerned about the man in question at all. I always think that once people start mentioning the Nazis they have lost the argument anyway.
Gary Lineker showed his contempt for the Daily Express and its readers after sharing an online post suggesting the paper should be sold in a brown paper bag on the newsagent’s top shelf, writes Steph Spyro.
He retweeted to his 8.7 million followers another Twitter user’s remarks which took aim at the newspaper.
The post by Marina Purkiss, the host of left-wing political podcast The Trawl, quoted from her broadcast: “If the Express newspaper must be sold, it should be wrapped in brown paper and placed on the top shelf…
“Just one of the many musings from our podcast this week.”
The tweet from February 7 has resurfaced following comments Lineker made about the Government’s asylum policy.
On the same day, Lineker fired shots at the Tories, sharing a tweet by hard-left Labour MP Nadia Whittome about BP profits and the need for a windfall tax.
Lineker asked: “How do they get away with this avarice?” When someone wrote: “Because people keep voting for them”, Lineker replied: “Indeed”.
Days later the BBC presenter shared a post on his personal Twitter account that referred to Tory deputy chairman Lee Anderson as “30p Lee” after the Tory MP controversially said that hard-up families should be able to prepare meals for 30p.
“I don’t think he is a great advert for the Left. The more we hear from him, the better because he makes Conservatism look attractive.”
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.
Ex-culture secretary Sir John Whittingdale said the need for presenters to be politically impartial must cover events the “highest paid” and called for the mid-term review of the licence fee to make sure the rule applies to freelancers.
Many BBC journalists are privately furious that Lineker has not been punished for his outspoken attacks at a time when the corporation is under attack for failing to serve all sections of the population fairly.
Former BBC director Roger Mosey warned it was crucial that impartiality is maintained across the broadcaster.
He suggested the pundit’s supporters would not be backing him if he was making comments in support of Mrs Braverman.
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Mr Mosey added: “Could you imagine the BBC’s lead presenter through the referendum campaign, campaigning for Leave and all the people now supporting Gary saying ‘That’s fine’.”
Mr Mosey added that the problem with allowing Lineker to express his views openly is it would allow other BBC employees to question why they are not entitled to give their opinions on issues.
John Sergeant, the BBC’s former Chief Political Correspondent, said Lineker is in “deep trouble” over his comments and he “can’t quite understand why the BBC aren’t making it clear what his position is”.
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 have appropriate internal processes in place if required.”
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