Tory MPs blast BBC over Gary Lineker ‘chaos’ and call on host to apologise for ‘grossly offensive remarks’
RAGING Tory MPs erupted this morning after the BBC capitulated to Gary Lineker without getting an apology for his “grossly offensive” remarks.
Backbenchers fear a review of the presenter’s Twitter use will be a “whitewash” and want to end him airing political views while pocketing huge sums of licence fee-payer cash.
ReutersGary Lineker has not apologised for comparing the language of the Government’s Illegal Migration Bill to 1930s Germany[/caption]
BBC/UNPIXSBBC Director General Tim Davie reinstated Lineker today[/caption]
And they warned the “self-inflicted chaos” would only fuel calls for the annual BBC charge to be scrapped.
After days of mayhem across its sports programmes, BBC chief Tim Davie today reinstated the Match Of The Day host and “looked forward” to him being back for the FA Cup this weekend.
Lineker tweeted that the saga had been “surreal” and was “delighted that we have navigated a way through this”.
But his failure to say sorry for comparing the Government’s illegal immigration crackdown to Nazi Germany angered Tories who put the boot into the Beeb for caving.
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Tom Hunt, deputy chair of the Conservative Common Sense Group, told the Sun: “There has been no apology from Lineker for the grossly offensive remarks he made that would have offended millions of people who are forced to make a contribution to his salary.
“What the BBC says about a social media review all seems rather vague and I fear it will just be a whitewash.”
A statement from the Corporation this morning said the BBC will review Lineker’s social media policy to clear up the “grey area” surrounding his impartiality expectations.
Former Conservative Cabinet Minister David Jones sarcastically tweeted: “A review. Decisive. Not procrastinating at all.”
Tory Mr Hunt demanded Mr Davie close the loophole allowing freelance staff like the ex-footie star to “act with impunity when it comes to impartiality rules”.
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He warned the carnage of the past few days would only fuel support for the £159 BBC telly tax to be axed.
He told the Sun: “Even before this there was growing momentum and support from the public for abolishing the licence fee. This will only boost that.”
Fellow Tory backbencher Scott Benton agreed: “The Licence Fee is a decades out of date, regressive tax which people shouldn’t have to pay simply to watch TV.
I’ve long called for it to be scrapped. This self-inflicted chaos and their obvious unwillingness to enforce impartiality will only strengthen calls for the fee to go.”
Ex-Cabinet Minister Jacob Rees-Mogg said: “He [Lineker] can say what he likes.
“The issue is that the BBC is the state broadcaster and that it’s funded by a tax on televisions.
“If it weren’t, then we wouldn’t need to worry about its impartiality.”
The former Business Secretary said the telly tax “has passed its sell-by date and it needs to go.”
Rishi Sunak’s spokesman today said the PM was “pleased” the BBC and Lineker had “resolved” the spat.
CHAOS AT THE BEEB
Lineker is the BBC’s highest paid star earning £1.5million a year on a freelance contract.
The MOTD man was asked to step back from the show last Friday after branding Suella Braverman’s Illegal Migration Bill “immeasurably cruel” and aping the language of 1930s Germany.
It triggered an open revolt with a slate of colleagues including Ian Wright and Alan Shearer walking out in protest, leaving the programme to air with no punditry or commentary.
Lineker said today: “I want to thank you all for the incredible support, particularly my colleagues at BBC Sport, for the remarkable show of solidarity. Football is a team game but their backing was overwhelming.”
And appearing to double down, he tweeted: “However difficult the last few days have been, it simply doesn’t compare to having to flee your home from persecution or war to seek refuge in a land far away.”
Davie apologised for the “difficult period” for staff, presenters and audiences.
He added: “Gary is a valued part of the BBC and I know how much the BBC means to Gary, and I look forward to him presenting our coverage this coming weekend.”
The Illegal Migration Bill will face its first Commons vote tonight and is expected to sail through.