Celebrities including Piers Morgan, Dan Walker, Jeremy Clarkson, and Richard Osman have rushed to the defence of Gary Lineker following the news of him stepping back from Match Of The Day.
The sports pundit, 62, made headlines after he blasted the government’s newly-announced controversial policy to stop illegal boats carrying migrants from reaching the UK.
He had responded to a video by Home Secretary Suella Braverman on Twitter, in which she called to ‘stop the boats’ with a new Illegal Migration Bill, calling it an ‘immeasurably cruel policy directed at the most vulnerable people in language that is not dissimilar to that used by Germany in the 30s.’
Lineker later insisted that he stood by his tweet, and said he would be returning to host Match Of The Day on Saturday, but it has since been announced by the BBC that he will not, in fact, appear on the show until there is an ‘agreement reached on social media use’.
Understandably, the whole thing has sparked great debate, with a flurry of stars making it very clear where they stand.
Controversial broadcaster Morgan was left in disbelief, branding the BBC’s decision ‘pathetically spineless’.
‘I now demand the BBC suspend every presenter who has made public comment about news or current affairs – starting with Sir David Attenborough and Lord Sugar’, he tweeted.
Ex-BBC Breakfast and Football Focus presenter Dan Walker tweeted: ‘I used to sit in for @GaryLineker on MOTD… not sure I’d fancy it this weekend. What a mess!’
The newsreader also shared that he’s in touch with Lineker, speaking about the situation on Channel 5 News.
Walker said: ‘It’s one of those strange situations where I’m actually texting the man himself (Lineker) at the moment.
‘So Gary Lineker wants to continue to present Match Of The Day and is not apologising for what he’s said, but he’s said it’s a BBC decision to force him to not present the programme at the moment.’
Elsewhere, former Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson voiced his stance, tweeting in response to Ian Wright.
Wright has stood by his colleague and friend, posting: ‘Everybody knows what Match of the Day means to me, but I’ve told the BBC I won’t be doing it tomorrow. Solidarity.’
Alastair Campbell has branded the BBC’s decision over Lineker’s remarks on Twitter ‘an act of political cowardice’ that threatens democracy.
The former journalist and Labour spin doctor described the move to announce Lineker was stepping back from Match Of The Day as ‘pathetic’ and ‘craven’ during an appearance on BBC Radio 5 Live.
Asked about his stance on the matter, he said: ‘I’ll be even more outspoken now because this is, I’m afraid, an act of complete political cowardice. If it was wrong in principle then they should have sacked him the other day.’
Campbell contrasted Lineker’s position with those of BBC chairman Richard Sharp and Sir Robbie Gibb, a BBC board member and former communications director for Theresa May.
He said Sir Robbie had ‘allowed the myth to develop that the BBC was somehow left wing’, before going on to work on the Brexit campaign and then returning to the corporation to sit on its board, but that ‘nobody has doorstepped’ him.
Campbell added: ‘It is absolutely pathetic and craven and it’s happened because… a few Tory MPs and a couple of ministers and the right-wing rags have got themselves worked up into a lather, and as a result of that Gary Lineker has to go.’
He described the move as ‘Trumpian’ and ‘utterly obscene’ and accused the BBC of ‘pander(ing) to a right-wing agenda’, before adding: ‘What has happened today is about more than a football commentator. It is dangerous to who and what we are as a democracy.’
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