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The Guardian

Gary Lineker: false claim I called northern voters ‘racist’ is dangerous

Gary Lineker was taken off air and subsequently reinstated after he compared the government’s language about migration to that used in 1930s Germany.

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 made the comments on Twitter in response to comments made by the Conservative MP Jonathan Gullis.

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

Speaking about Rishi Sunak’s recent legislation on small boats, he said: “[It is] 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 the BBC director general, Tim Davie, announced that Lineker would be returning to present Match of the Day on Saturday.

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.

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

The row was sparked after Lineker was taken off air for publishing a tweet that compared the language used to launch a government asylum policy to that used in 1930s Germany.

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

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 Broadcasting House in London.

“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.

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