Gary Lineker challenges ‘dangerously provocative’ comments made by Tory MP

The Match Of The Day host described accusations that he called northern voters ‘racist bigots’ as ‘outrageous’.
The Match Of The Day host described accusations that he called northern voters ‘racist bigots’ as ‘outrageous’.

Gary Lineker has described accusations that he called northern voters “racist bigots” as “outrageous and dangerously provocative”.

The recently reinstated Match Of The Day host took to Twitter once again in response to comments made by Conservative MP Jonathan Gullis.

During an interview with Channel 4 News, Mr Gullis said he was not concerned with upsetting members of the “Twitterati”.

Speaking about Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s recent legislation on small boats, he said: “(It’s) certainly tough and upset all the right people in the right places as far as I’m concerned.

“Let’s be clear, when I talk about upsetting people I’m talking about the Twitterati, the Wokerati of North Islington, those champagne socialists who pontificate all day.

“Those are the people I don’t care upsetting, because those are the people who want to call people up here racist bigots, Nazis, like Gary Lineker has done.”

Responding to the clip, another Twitter user wrote: “I don’t think Gary Lineker has actually directly called Red Wall voters ‘Nazis’ Mr Gullis.”

Lineker also replied, writing: “No he hasn’t and never would. This is outrageous and dangerously provocative.”

It comes after BBC director-general Tim Davie announced that Lineker would be returning to present Match Of The Day on Saturday.

Mr Davie apologised for the recent impartiality row, sparked by one of the presenter’s previous tweets, and announced a review of social media guidelines at the broadcaster.

Royal Television Society London Convention 2022
BBC Director-General Tim Davie announced a review of social media guidelines after the row (Richard Kendal/RTS/PA)

Lineker “will abide by the editorial guidelines” until a review of the BBC’s social media policy is complete, Mr Davie said.

The row was sparked after Lineker was taken off air for a tweet comparing the language used to launch a new Government asylum seeker policy to that of 1930s Germany.

He was subsequently asked to “step back” from the popular football highlights show, prompting a boycott by his fellow MOTD pundits and commentators.

The PA news agency understands that earlier on Tuesday employees at the BBC were invited to lunchtime sessions in Salford so Mr Davie and chief content officer Charlotte Moore could “hear from staff, take questions and reflect on the events of the last few days”.

Dame Melanie Dawes at the DCMS Committee
Ofcom chief Dame Melanie Dawes said she hopes the BBC ‘can find their way through’ (House of Commons/PA)

Meanwhile, Ofcom chief executive Dame Melanie Dawes also told a Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee meeting that the past week had been a “really difficult episode for the BBC” but that she hoped “they can find their way through it”.

Since the row, Lineker has changed his Twitter profile picture to a photo of himself next to a George Orwell quote, which is written on the wall outside of the BBC.

“If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear,” the quote reads.

Lineker also retweeted a video of former prime minister Theresa May criticising the Government’s proposed Immigration Bill in the House of Commons, describing it as a “blanket dismissal” of those facing persecution.