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Gary Lineker comments: Britons think BBC sports correspondents should be free to air political views

Gary Lineker was criticised for slamming the government’s new asylum policy on Twitter.

Soccer Football - FA Cup Semi Final - Manchester City v Liverpool - Wembley Stadium, London, Britain - April 16, 2022 TV pundit and former player Gary Lineker is seen inside the stadium before the match Action Images via Reuters/Carl Recine
BBC presenter Gary Lineker criticised the government’s new asylum policy. (Reuters)

Britons think BBC sports correspondents should be free to air political views after presenter Gary Lineker was criticised for slamming the government’s new asylum policy, a new poll has revealed.

Lineker, 62, has faced criticism from home secretary Suella Braverman and immigration minister Robert Jenrick after comparing the language used to launch the policy with 1930s Germany.

The BBC said it would speak to The Match Of The Day host about his comments following the backlash.

However, a new YouGov poll has revealed 46% of Brits think BBC sports correspondents should be allowed to publicly express their political views outside of BBC channels and platforms.

In total 33% think they should not be allowed and a further 21% did not know.

Read more: UK defends asylum plan after Nazi comparison

A YouGov poll shows Britons tend to say BBC sports correspondents should be free to air political views. (YouGov)
A YouGov poll shows Britons tend to say BBC sports correspondents should be free to air political views. (YouGov)

On Tuesday, Lineker commented on Twitter about a video in which home secretary Braverman unveiled the government’s plans to stop migrants crossing the Channel on small boats and said the UK is being “overwhelmed”.

The ex-England striker wrote: “There is no huge influx. We take far fewer refugees than other major European countries.

Read more: Lineker claim on UK taking ‘far fewer refugees’ than Europe supported by data

“This is just an immeasurably cruel policy directed at the most vulnerable people in language that is not dissimilar to that used by Germany in the ’30s.”

Braverman told ITV’s Good Morning Britain on Wednesday she was “very disappointed” when she saw Lineker’s "irresponsible" comments but said it was up to the BBC to decide if he should be sacked.

The prime minister’s press secretary also expressed disappointment at the BBC presenter’s comments.

Watch: Gary Lineker hits back after home secretary says his remarks were 'irresponsible'

Immigration minister Jenrick criticised Lineker as being “so far out of step with the British public”.

While energy secretary Grant Shapps tweeted: “As a Jewish Cabinet minister I need no lessons about 1930s Germany from @GaryLineker.”

A spokesman for Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said it should be no surprise the BBC presenter has “strong views” on refugee rights, referring to the former England striker as a “passionate advocate” for refugees.

Former Newsnight presenter Emily Maitlis – who was reprimanded by the BBC for sharing a tweet the corporation viewed as “controversial” – said she thought it was “curious” the presenter was “free” to ask about Qatar’s human rights record during his World Cup coverage, but not about the same issue in the UK.

Lineker is a freelance broadcaster for the BBC, not a permanent member of staff, and is not responsible for news or political content so does not need to adhere to the same rules on impartiality.