Linekers BBC career on knife-edge as Thornberry blasts Nazi comment

Gary Lineker’s migration bill comments discussed by Thornberry

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Gary Lineker’s BBC career appears to be on a knife-edge following his Twitter comments comparing the Government’s Illegal Migration Bill to 1930s Germany. Now, even his usual supporters on the left are saying he crossed a line. Last night, Labour Shadow Cabinet member Emily Thornberry told Sky News she thinks he went “too far with his comments”.

Mrs Thornberry said: “I know Gary Lineker feels very strongly about this issue.

“I think some of the language he has used in the last 24 hours has been really very unfortunate and I wouldn’t have used it.”

Asked by Sky presenter Sophy Ridge to which language she’s referring, Mrs Thornberry specified the comparisons to Nazi Germany.

She argued: “I just think there is a special place in Hell for the Nazis and for the Holocaust.

“I don’t think you should be making comparisons. So I wouldn’t have said that.”

Mrs Thornberry, a close ally of Jeremy Corbyn’s during his time as Labour leader, added that she believes the BBC’s response to the scandal “is frankly not my business”.

She predicted Mr Lineker will continue to “say what he thinks”.

It comes as BBC insiders tell the Telegraph his doubling-down on Twitter yesterday “fanned the flames” of outrage within the ranks of the corporation.

Sources reportedly added there is no doubt the tweet breached BBC editorial guidelines.

Tory MPs spent yesterday piling on the pressure, with at least nine explicitly calling for him to be sacked.

Home Secretary Suella Braverman told ITV’s Good Morning Britain that she was “very disappointed with the comments”.

She added: “Equating our measures – which are lawful, necessary and fundamentally compassionate – to 1930s Germany is irresponsible and I disagree with that characterisation.”

The Home Secretary declined to call for Mr Lineker’s sacking, saying: “That’s a matter for the BBC and they will resolve that.”

In September last year, BBC Director General Tim Davie claimed he’d spoken to Gary Lineker, and boasted: “I think he understands the guidelines.”

In 2020, Mr Davie also told the House of Commons Culture Committee that the BBC would be able to take stars like Mr Lineker “off Twitter” altogether for breaking the corporation’s social media rules.

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Last night the BBC sparked fury when deciding to lead the 6 o’clock and 10 o’clock evening news bulletins with the Gary Lineker story.

Mr Lineker described the BBC’s decision to lead with the story as proof that “the world’s gone mad”.

He was responding to a tweet from an Independent journalist, who described the decision to prioritise the Twitter row over other news items as “totally, totally, f*****g insane”.

Labour MP Karl Turner said the decision by the corporation to prioritise coverage of Lineker’s Nazi Germany comments was proof that the “BBC is broken”.

Former Theresa May advisor Nick Timothy defended the decision by the corporation to prioritise the story, saying the decision is “no more absurd than the Director General of the BBC telling him to stop breaching impartiality rules, only to have him laugh in Tim Davie’s face”.

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