Gary Lineker calls out Tory MP's ‘dangerously provocative’ comments about him

Tory MP Jonathan Gullis suggested Gary Lineker called northern voters 'racist bigots', which the MOTD presenter described as 'outrageous'. Credit: PA

Gary Lineker has described a Tory MP's accusations that he called northern voters “racist bigots” as “outrageous and dangerously provocative”.

The recently reinstated Match Of The Day host took to Twitter once again - this time in response to comments made by Conservative MP Jonathan Gullis.

During an interview with Channel 4 News, the MP for Stoke-on-Trent North said he was not concerned about upsetting members of the “Twitterati” when defending the government's controversial small boats legislation.

Speaking about the policy, Mr Gullis said: “(It’s) 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.

Sharing the clip, a Twitter user wrote: “I don’t think Gary Lineker has actually directly called Red Wall voters ‘Nazis’ Mr Gullis.”

Lineker retweeted the user's comment and wrote: “No he hasn’t and never would. This is outrageous and dangerously provocative.”

It comes after BBC director-general Tim Davie announced that Lineker would be returning to present Match Of The Day on Saturday.

Mr 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 is complete, Mr Davie said.

The row was sparked after Lineker was taken off air for a tweet comparing the language used to launch a new Government asylum seeker policy to that of 1930s Germany.

BBC Director-General Tim Davie announced a review of social media guidelines after the row Credit: Richard Kendal/RTS/PA

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

Fellow MOTD pundit Ian Wright - who didn't appear on MOTD in a show of "solidarity" - said managers at the BBC caused a “hot mess” at the weekend after asking Lineker to step away.

Speaking on his podcast, Wrighty’s House, Wright described the fallout as a “perfect distraction from what really matters”.

The former Arsenal player, Ian Wright, said 'heads have got to roll' over the BBC's handling of the Lineker row. Credit: PA

He said: “For me, they made a hot mess. I’m telling you, this is all from high up. I can’t blame my man Philip Bernie (head of BBC TV Sport), the BBC Sports team. All of this is over a tweet."

“At some stage surely, heads have got to roll… The mismanagement levels of this is - I can’t even tell you - but it’s done. Everybody knows how I feel about it," added Wright.

“I’m just pleased that it’s kind of come to something.”

It is understood that earlier on Tuesday employees at the BBC were invited to lunchtime sessions in Salford so Mr Davie and chief content officer Charlotte Moore could “hear from staff, take questions and reflect on the events of the last few days”.

Meanwhile, Ofcom chief executive Dame Melanie Dawes also told a Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee meeting that the past week had been a “really difficult episode for the BBC” but that she hoped “they can find their way through it”.

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 of the BBC.

“If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear,” the quote reads.

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