Jeremy Corbyn defends Gary Lineker but says focus has shifted from 'disgraceful' migrant bill

11 March 2023, 14:28 | Updated: 11 March 2023, 14:32

Jeremy Corbyn expresses support for Gary Lineker

By Phoebe Dampare Osei

Jeremy Corbyn has said that he supports Gary Lineker over his tweet, but believes the attention has been diverted away from the migrant bill he criticised.

Speaking to Matt Frei, the former Labour leader explained that the football pundit has "got a perfect right to express an opinion".

Mr Corbyn continued: "Even within the BBC's own code they're allowed to express opinions of a partisan nature, providing it doesn't impinge on their area of work. His area of work is sport.

"Others - Alan Sugar and many others - have made the most partisan comments in the past."

"Against you", Matt Frei put in.

READ MORE: Gary Lineker's suspension from Match of the Day is distracting from 'disgraceful' migrants bill, Jeremy Corbyn tells LBC

"Against me, yes...particularly", Mr Corbyn replied. "Absolutely nothing was done despite complaints being made to the BBC. They've sort of come down like a tonne of bricks on Gary Lineker."

The former Labour leader went on: "Whilst I support what Gary said - and I think he's a decent human being in the way he's put it and said it - unfortunately the whole debate now is shifting onto Gary and the BBC and ignoring the issue of this, I think, disgraceful piece of legislation that Parliament's about to debate on Monday."

Jeremy Corbyn: Lineker should be reinstated straight away

The legislation he referred to is the new Illegal Migration Bill, the government's attempt to crack down on the number of Channel migrants.

Mr Corbyn also felt that Gary Lineker should be "reinstated straight away".

Yesterday a migrant deal between the UK and France was struck to stop the small boats migrants are using to make the treacherous journey.

READ MORE: UK will help fund new detention centre in France as part of £479 million deal to stop Channel migrant crossings

Alastair Campbell doesn't think Gary Lineker's tweet was over the top

This comes during a week of backlash faced by the football pundit, after he was asked to "step back" from presenting Match of the Day until an agreement can be reached over his social media use, after his comparison of the language used by the government to that of 1930s Germany.

This prompted other pundits including Ian Wright and Alan Shearer to pull out of presenting Match of the Day in solidarity with Mr Lineker, while Alex Scott pulled out of presenting Football Focus.

READ MORE: Football Focus and Final Score axed after presenters pull out as revolt over Gary Lineker row intensifies