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14 March 2023

The BBC’s handling of Gary Lineker’s tweet – what does this show?

2 mins

Gary Lineker’s tweet last week regarding the government’s latest plans to ‘tackle illegal immigration’, in which he commented both on the government’s use of language as being inflammatory, and that he felt the government’s intentions were ‘beyond awful’, resulted in the BBC suspending him from his duties in presenting Match of the Day.

Members of our Immigration, Asylum, and Nationality team comment:

The BBC’s decision (quite likely bowing to pressure from the government) to suspend Gary Lineker from presenting is an indicator of both positive and negative developments in this front-of-centre debate enveloping Rishi Sunak’s government and Suella Braverman’s immigration bill.

Gary Lineker should be applauded for highlighting the provocative nature of the language and the proposals; the BBC’s decision to suspend him (now reversed) is a slide towards silencing free speech.

Lineker’s comments reflect a growing opposition to the Illegal Migration Bill; leading British religious leaders have also condemned the Illegal Migration Bill as ‘immoral and inept’. A cohort of over 350 businesses, legal groups, charities, and unions sent a letter to the Prime Minister calling for the bill to be scrapped, declaring that they were ‘horrified by the proposed legislation that shames this government and marks the UK as running roughshod over human rights’, and urged the government to stop using language reminiscent of 1930s Germany.

It is with hope that the increasingly vocal public opposition to the bill will force the government to not abandon the UK’s commitments to the European Convention on Human Rights and will ultimately deter Suella Braverman and others from enacting a law that would be in breach of the UN Refugee Convention.

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