Gary Lineker wades into politics AGAIN to demand MPs back trophy ban
Gary Lineker wades into politics AGAIN as he demands MPs back trophy hunting import ban
- Starmer unleashed a series of barbs over the Gary Lineker BBC Twitter row
- But Sunak batted them off and pointed out Labour MPs had also slated post
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Gary Lineker has risked ruffling feathers again at the BBC after entering the political fray to demand MPs support a Bill banning hunters bringing game trophies into the UK.
He is among names including Frank Bruno, Chris Kamara and Joe Bugner to sign a letter calling for politicians to get the new law approved.
The bill would stop hunters bringing home game souvenirs such as heads and pelts.
In a letter Lineker signed among others, it says: ‘It would be a crushing blow to democracy if a measure promised in four Queen’s Speeches were lost because not enough MPs turned up.’
It came as Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer attempted to weaponise Lineker during pre-Budget PMQs as he accused Tory MPs of ‘cancelling the star and his free speech’ – before being told his own party had also slated the pundit.
Former Director of Public Prosecutions Sir Keir, 60, tried to use the Match of the Day host’s social media woes to fire blows on Rishi Sunak.
Match Of The Day host Gary Lineker leaves his home in London on Monday earlier this week
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak speaks during Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons
But the attempt during Prime Minister’s Questions – which saw him call the Tories ‘snowflake MPs’ – barely landed.
Sunak dodged the attack after pointing out Labour’s Emily Thornberry and Yvette Cooper had also criticised Lineker.
Lineker was pilloried by some for likening the Government’s migration crackdown to Nazi Germany.
Starmer declared at PMQs: ‘The sight of them, howling at rage over a tweet, signing letters in their dozens.
‘Desperately trying to cancel a football highlights show. That should have been laughable but instead it led to a farcical weekend with the national broadcaster being accused of dancing to the government’s tune by its own employees
‘Rather than everyone else, why doesn’t he take some responsibility and stand up to his snowflake MPs waging war on free speech?’
But Mr Sunak had an answer for him and fired back: ‘Just the usual political opportunism from the leader of the Labour party.
‘I don’t know if he noticed but actually first the shadow attorney general and the shadow home secretary criticised the tweet.
An insider told the publication that numerous people spoke out against Lineker in the meeting (pictured, the BBC Television Studios in Media City, Salford)
The presenter will return to Match of the Day this weekend despite not apologising for comparing the Government’s migration crackdown to Nazi Germany
‘But what a surprise, he saw the chance to jump on a political band wagon and changed his mind.’
After opening on the Gary Lineker fiasco, the Labour leader turned his questions towards BBC chairman Richard Sharp.
Sir Keir Starmer asked: ‘Does he accept that people’s concerns about the BBC have been made worse because the Government chose to put a Tory donor with no broadcasting experience in charge of the BBC?’
The Prime Minister replied: ‘As he well knows, the BBC chairman was appointed before I became Prime Minister.’
He added: ‘There was a rigorous independent and well-established process. That appointment was supported by expert panel members as well as the cross-party DCMS select committee.
‘That process is being independently reviewed by the Office for Commissioner of Public Appointments and we should allow that review to conclude.’
The BBC has come under fire for its handling of the row, and now a minister has suggested that the Gary Lineker fiasco risks harming public support for the BBC licence fee.
The presenter will return to Match of the Day this weekend despite not apologising for comparing the Government’s migration crackdown to Nazi Germany.
Culture minister Julia Lopez said yesterday that ‘trust and impartiality’ were vital to the ‘social contract’ that underpins the licence fee. Ms Lopez also admitted the licence fee was losing support among the public, amid furious calls from MPs to drop the ‘poll tax on propaganda’.
Culture minister Julia Lopez (pictured) said this week that ‘trust and impartiality’ were vital to the ‘social contract’ that underpins the licence fee. Ms Lopez also admitted the licence fee was losing support among the public, amid furious calls from MPs to drop the ‘poll tax on propaganda’
READ MORE: Ian Wright hits out at BBC chiefs for creating a ‘HOT MESS’ by temporarily axing Gary Lineker as MOTD host, while telling Conservative councillor Alexis McEvoy to ‘own your f*****g racism’ after she branded him a ‘typical black hypocrite’ over row
Backbenchers lined up yesterday to blast the corporation for ‘caving-in’ to Lineker by allowing him to return to MOTD.
Unfazed by the events of the past week, Lineker last night changed the picture on his Twitter profile to a photoshopped image of himself in front of a George Orwell quotation about freedom of speech that can be found on a wall outside the BBC’s New Broadcasting House in central London
The presenter is depicted smiling in front of the words: ‘If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.’
Director-general Tim Davie and content chief Charlotte Moore travelled to Salford yesterday to ‘reflect on the events of the last few days’ with sports staff. A source there said people were ‘livid’ about what has happened, amid claims that Mr Davie had ‘just presented’ at staff when he spoke to them.
The BBC continued to suffer high-profile attacks from those on both sides of the debate last night. Ian Wright, who boycotted last Saturday’s MOTD in ‘solidarity with Lineker’, said the corporation had made a ‘hot mess from high up’ and that ‘surely heads have got to roll’.
But former BBC chief political correspondent John Sergeant said the corporation could not back down on ‘the commitment to political impartiality’ and that if ‘key freelance presenters’ cannot ‘stick to the rules, their contracts should end’.
Yesterday a debate about the row was held in Parliament after Labour asked an urgent question in the Commons.
DUP MP Sammy Wilson (East Antrim) attacked the way the BBC handled Lineker over his comments on Twitter about the Government’s immigration policy.
Mr Wilson told the Commons: ‘The BBC has shown once again it’s impossible, because of the bias inherent in it, to be impartial and it is now time that people are no longer forced to finance the BBC through the licence fee, especially when every week 1,000 people are taken to court by the BBC – 70 per cent of them women – for refusing to pay this poll tax on propaganda.’
Ms Lopez said Mr Wilson was ‘right to highlight the importance of impartiality to the trust in which licence fee-payers hold the organisation and the importance in relation to the future of the licence fee’.
Former Tory minister Damian Green told the Commons the Lineker affair had been ’embarrassingly terrible for the BBC’.
He added: ‘Presenters whose reputations and bank balances are enhanced by regular appearances on BBC shows owe a reciprocal responsibility to the BBC, which may include some self-restraint in what they say and do in public.’
The debate sparked further anger after Labour’s culture spokesman Lucy Powell said Lineker being taken off air for tweeting something ‘the Government doesn’t like’ sounds like ‘Putin’s Russia’.
Conservative former minister Andrew Percy said: ‘I hope the shadow secretary of state will reflect on her comparison of this Government to the Putin regime which, of course, is engaged in war crimes and the murder of men, women, and children in Ukraine. That was beneath her.’
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