Richard Madeley says calls to sack Gary Lineker over criticism of asylum policy are ‘preposterous’

Richard Madeley has defended Gary Lineker’s criticism of the government’s new asylum policy, saying that calls to sack the Match of the Day host are “preposterous”.

Lineker, 62, has faced criticism from members of the Tory party, after comparing the language used to launch the controversial policy with that of 1930s Germany.

During an appearance on Question Time on Thursday night (9 March), Madeley said: “Clearly, if [Lineker] was a political journalist, political presenter or interviewer in any of the areas of the BBC that we’re talking about, like Newsnight, then clearly he shouldn’t have made those comments.

“Those comments would be a dereliction of duty and deeply compromising to his programme, to himself, future interviews and of course to the BBC, which is publicly funded by us.

“But he’s a sports presenter; he talks about football and games and tactics, and headers and corners and referees and league tables and all the rest of it.

“And quite how not having the right to have the freedom of speech on – not even on any of his programmes – but on his Twitter page, to say anything he likes within in the law, escapes me.”

The Good Morning Britain presenter, 66, described calls to “muzz and muffle” Lineker as “preposterous”, adding: “It’s ridiculous to suggest that he should be sacked.”

Madeley did, however, criticise Lineker drawing parallels between the UK government and Nazi Germany, saying: “It’s an insult to the minorities and the Jewish nation who were subject to acts of genocide by the then German dictatorship.”

Home Secretary Suella Braverman also accused Lineker of diminishing the Holocaust after he made the comments.

The controversial policy proposed by Braverman would seek to remove asylum seekers and ban them from re-entry if they arrive in the UK through unauthorised means.

Gary Lineker (PA)
Gary Lineker (PA)

She said: “They will not stop coming here until the world knows that if you enter Britain illegally you will be detained and swiftly removed. Removed back to your country if it is safe, or to a safe third country like Rwanda ... That is how we will stop the boats.”

Only children under the age of 18, and those who are “unfit to fly or at a real risk of serious and irreversible harm – an exceedingly high bar” will be able to delay their removal, Braverman said. Any other claims will be heard “remotely” after removal.

Braverman admitted that new laws may break the Human Rights Act by failing to comply the European Convention on Human Rights.

She was also accused of “inflammatory language” for suggesting that 100 million asylum seekers could come to the UK without her planned immigration crackdown.