Corbyn says Gary Lineker should be reinstated 'straight away'
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Jeremy Corbyn has demanded the BBC reinstate Gary Lineker to his Match of the Day presenting duties “straight away” and has instead called for Director-General Tim Davie and Chairman Richard Sharp to go. The BBC has faced a furious backlash after Mr Lineker was taken off air in a row over impartiality after he posted a tweet compared the language used to launch a new Government asylum seeker policy with 1930s Germany. But the under-fire broadcaster’s football coverage has been torn to shreds today after scored of presenters and reporters withdrew in solidarity with the former England striker.
The controversy has triggered widespread criticism towards the BBC, including from several leading politicians, with Jeremy Corbyn demanding Lineker be reinstated and calling for the broadcaster’s two most powerful figures to go instead.
The former Labour Party leader appeared on LBC radio this morning, and was first asked by presenter Matt Frei: “How damaged is the BBC by all of this?”
Mr Corbyn replied: “Extremely damaged in public perception at a very dangerous time for them because after all the TV licence renewal and everything else that is coming up in the next few years.”
The LBC presenter than asked: “Is there any way back for Gary Lineker?”
The former Labour leader demanded: “I think Gary Lineker should be reinstated straight away to present Match of the Day
“Gary Lineker is a big figure. I’m not saying he is bigger than the BBC, but he is very big, and the BBC ought to realise that.”
He was then asked about the future of BBC Director General Mr Davie, to which Mr Corbyn replied: “I think he should go. He should never have been appointed and is far too partisan.”
The former Labour leader was also asked about BBC Chairman Richard Sharp, and said: “Likewise. Both of those should go. There should be much more independent and credible figures to head the BBC to show it really is an independent, public service broadcaster.”
On Friday evening, Mr Corbyn voiced his support for Mr Lineker and and his Match of the Day colleague Ian Wright, who said he would not be appearing on the football highlights show tonight.
The former Labour leader tweeted: “Well done @GaryLineker for standing up for refugees. Well done @IanWright0 for showing the meaning of solidarity.
“Now, let’s mobilise against a politics of cruelty, and defeat this inhumane, illegal and immoral legislation.”
Elsewhere, current Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has accused the BBC of “caving in” to Tory MPs in the row over Mr Lineker, saying the corporation’s position is “the opposite of impartial”.
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He told broadcasters at Welsh Labour’s conference in Llandudno: “The BBC is not acting impartially by caving in to Tory MPs who are complaining about Gary Lineker.
“They got this one badly wrong and now they’re very, very exposed.
“As is the Government, because at the heart of this is the Government’s failure on the asylum system. And rather than take responsibility for the mess they’ve made, the Government is casting around to blame anybody else – Gary Lineker, the BBC, civil servants, the ‘blob’.
“What they should be doing is standing up, accepting they’ve broken the asylum system, and telling us what they’re going to do to actually fix it, not whingeing on about Gary Lineker.”
Mr Lineker was taken off air after he compared the Government’s new migration policy to the tactics of Nazi Germany on social media.
The Match of the Day host had shared his thoughts on Government’s Illegal Migration Bill on Twitter and in a retweet of a video from the Home Office featuring Home Secretary Suella Braverman, he wrote: “Good heavens, this is beyond awful.”
In a separate tweet, the former footballer said: “There is no huge influx. We take far fewer refugees than other major European countries.
“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, and I’m out of order?”
Mr Lineker has remained defiant and insisted he will continue to speak up for the “voiceless”.
“He tweeted: “Great to see the freedom of speech champions out in force this morning demanding silence from those with whom they disagree.”
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