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12th Dec 2023

Gary Lineker hits back after he’s told to ‘stick to football’ over Rwanda views

Charlie Herbert

Gary Lineker hits back after he's told to 'stick to football' over Rwanda views

Defence minister Grant Shapps called out the Match of the Day presenter

Gary Lineker has responded to suggestions he should ‘stick to football’ after he criticised the government’s Rwanda asylum scheme.

The Match of the Day presenter was one of dozens of celebrities and high-profile media figures who signed a letter urging Rishi Sunak’s government to scrap its plans to send asylum seekers to Rwanda.

The letter called for a new asylum scheme that “reflects the will of the British people.”

This prompted defence secretary Grant Shapps to single out Lineker. The Tory minister said he “fundamentally disagreed” with him, adding that Lineker should stick to football and TV instead of voicing his political views.

“What is right or moral about having people trafficked dangerously across the English Channel, losing their lives at sea, illegally entering the country? That is not a civilised, morally correct thing to do,” Shapps said.

He added: “I just fundamentally disagree with him. I know millions of people watch him for his football commentary and TV presenting, I would have thought it’s better to stick with that.”

Responding to Shapps, Lineker shared a post on X which showed a picture of the Tory MP with his name under it alongside three more images of the politician with the names Michael Green, Corinne Stockheath and Sebastian Fox used instead.

Lineker wrote: “A tad rich coming from someone who can’t even stick to one name. 4 chaps Shapps.”

This was in reference to previous accusations that Shapps had breached the ministerial code of conduct by continuing to work as a marketer of get-rich-quick schemes under the pseudonym Michael Green after he became an MP.

He has also been accused of using the pseudonyms Sebastian Fox and Corinne Stockheath.

The BBC has said Lineker is “free to contribute to projects for third parties, as long as these do not conflict with his BBC commitments.” The broadcaster pointed out that he “regularly” contributes to other projects and that he had expressed his views on the government’s policy in a letter and not on social media.

Earlier this year, Lineker was at the centre of controversy after he said language being used by the current government was “not dissimilar to that used by Germany in the 30s.”

The former England striker was responding to a video put out by then-UK home secretary Suella Braverman in which she unveiled new controversial plans that meant anyone arriving in Britain by unauthorised means would be unable to claim asylum in the UK.

Lineker was removed from his Match of the Day presenting duties by the BBC, with the corporation saying he had broken its impartiality guidelines.

He was eventually reinstated by the broadcaster, who apologised to him.

Related links:

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