Gary Lineker says he is ‘looking forward’ to returning to TV screens this weekend after storm over immigration comments

9 March 2023, 11:30 | Updated: 9 March 2023, 14:45

Gary Lineker pictured outside his London home this morning
Gary Lineker pictured outside his London home this morning. Picture: Alamy

By Asher McShane

Gary Lineker has said he is 'looking forward' to getting back to presenting Match of the Day after he sparked a storm by comparing the government’s new policy on migrants to language used in 1930s Germany.

The presenter posted on Twitter this afternoon: "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 @BBCMOTD on Saturday. Thanks again for all your incredible support. It’s been overwhelming."

His comments come after the Home Secretary said has said "flippant analogies" linked to her asylum policy "diminishes the unspeakable tragedy" of the Holocaust.

Earlier today Lineker said he doesn’t fear being suspended from his role at the BBC.

As he walked to a waiting car outside his London home this morning he was asked by reporters if he was concerned about being suspended, to which he replied “no.”

"I'm always talking to the BBC,” he added.

Asked if he had spoken to the director general, he said, after a pause, "yeah" before adding "he said... well we chat often".

He said he stood by his remarks and that he had no regrets about what he posted on Twitter.

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Lineker, 62, has faced criticism from members of the Tory party including Downing Street and the Home Office.

A BBC source also told the PA news agency that the corporation was taking the matter "seriously" and expects to have a "frank conversation" with the ex-England striker.

In his original tweet on Tuesday, Lineker commented on a Home Office video in which Ms Braverman unveiled the Government's plans to stop migrants crossing the Channel on small boats and said the UK is being "overwhelmed".

He 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."

Downing Street later described the remarks as "not acceptable" and "disappointing".

Other top Tory MPs including immigration minister Robert Jenrick and Energy Secretary Grant Shapps also expressed their concerns.

Following the criticism on Wednesday, Lineker said he would "continue to try and speak up for those poor souls that have no voice".

Earlier, BBC director-general Tim 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 think it's right. I think the BBC absolutely puts the highest value on impartiality and that's clearly important to us."

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.

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

Representatives for Lineker have been contacted for comment.

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