Gary Lineker compares Rishi Sunak’s law to Hitler’s ideas, BBC pressured to sack presenter

Gary Lineker isn’t taking back what he said about the UK’s new immigration law and isn’t afraid the BBC will end his contract. The former England footballer and host of the BBC’s ‘Match of the Day’ program has been embroiled in controversy after comparing the new British law to “the ideas of Germany in the 1930s”, in a reference to Adolf Hitler’s Nazi regime. The comparison, shared on Twitter on Tuesday, is said to have angered the Rishi Sunak-led government and the press is reporting that British public television has been pressured to terminate the sports commentator.

Home Secretary Suella Braverman said Lineker’s comments “diminished the unspeakable tragedy” that was the Holocaust. The minister went further and, speaking on the BBC’s Political Thought, said the allusion was “insulting”, noting that her husband is Jewish and that, as a result, her family feels the impact “very deeply of the Holocaust”.

Also this Thursday, Culture Minister Lucy Fraser told parliament that Lineker’s comment was “disappointing and inappropriate”, noting that his mother was one of the refugees who managed to escape Nazi Germany. Fraser said the BBC “was independent of government” but defended the importance of television remaining impartial to “maintain the trust of the public who pay a license fee”.

The BBC issued a statement on the row on Wednesday: Public Television said it had a “frank conversation” with Lineker about the impartiality guidelines governing the station.

Asked by reporters if he had spoken to the BBC director general, Lineker said he had and added that the two “talk often”. And when asked if he kept what he wrote in the message, the former England striker was unequivocal: “of course,” he said.

In a new message on Twitter this Thursday, Lineker thanked the “incredible support” he had received since the row broke out, regretted that “this story has taken on ridiculous proportions” and hinted that he would continue as a BBC presenter. “I’m looking forward to hosting Sunday’s ‘Match of The Day,'” he said.

The British government presented this Tuesday in parliament a new law aimed at preventing illegal immigrants from entering the UK. Under the bill, people who enter the country illegally would be arrested and quickly sent back to their country of origin if deemed safe, or to a third country such as Rwanda. “That’s exactly what this bill will do, that’s how we’re going to stop the boats,” announced Suella Braverman, the interior secretary.

The new legislation will allow people to be held without bail or any court order for the first 28 days. Only minors under 18, sick or at risk of irreversible harm will be exempted from extradition

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