Skip to content


By Amber Hamed, BA Politics and International Relations

On March 7, Conservative Home Secretary, Suella Braverman, presented the Illegal Migration Bill to parliament, which aims to ban refugees seeking asylum from entering the country. This implies that if you arrive in the UK illegally, you will be denied asylum and safety. You will also be denied access to the UK’s modern slavery system, which means those who are victims of modern-day slavery will get no support from the government or even be recognised as victims. 

Accordingly, there has been much public outrage to this draconian bill which harms those fleeing conflict and war. Paradoxically, politically conservative figures such as Theresa May and Priti Patel, known for their staunch condemnation of immigration, have come out criticising the bill.  Moreover, there has been international backlash over the bill, specifically from the EU, who warn Braverman that the bill may violate international law. 

On March 18, Braverman visited Rwanda and stated that the ​​’UK-Rwanda Migration and Economic Development Partnership is a ground-breaking approach’ and that it ‘will act as a powerful deterrent against dangerous and illegal journeys such as small boat crossing.’

Gary Lineker, former professional footballer and current sports broadcaster and presenter of BBC’s Match of The Day (MOTD), is one of many who have publicly criticised the anti-migration bill. He tweeted reprimands against Braverman’s bill, where he compared the Conservative Government’s use of language towards migrants to that of 1930s Germany, asserting that the bill is ‘beyond awful.’ 

Shortly after these tweets, the BBC suspended Lineker from MOTD, claiming that he had ‘breached guidelines with his political views’. It is largely unclear whose guidelines Lineker has breached, and if this aligns with the BBC’s track record of ‘impartiality’. Compared to the BBC chairman donating £400,000 to the Tory party, and helping former Prime Minister Boris Johnson secure an £800,000 loan, questions have been raised surrounding the legitimacy of the action taken against Lineker. 

 “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”

Lineker subsequently refused to apologise for his remarks and has since gained much support and solidarity from the public, including footballers and politicians. The Professional Footballer’s Association (PFA), a trade union for professional footballers, released a statement expressing ‘their support for all members who might face consequences for choosing not to complete their broadcast commitments.’

Former professional footballer and fellow host of MOTD, Ian Wright, boycotted MOTD in solidarity with Lineker, tweeting: ‘Everybody knows what Match of the Day means to me, but I’ve told the BBC I won’t be doing it tomorrow. Solidarity.’ 

Former leader of the Labour party, Jeremy Corbyn, tweeted: ‘Well done [Gary Lineker] for standing up for refugees, lets mobilise against a politics of cruelty and defeat this inhumane, illegal and immoral legislation.’

Despite much pressure, Lineker continued to stand up for refugees and thanked those who supported him in a series of tweets: ‘After a surreal few days, I’m delighted that we have navigated a way through this. 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.’

He continued: ‘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. It’s heartwarming to have seen the empathy towards their plight from so many of you…We remain a country of predominantly tolerant, welcoming and generous people.’ 

What this has illustrated, is that there is a crisis of freedom of speech in this country—where you can be punished for political views that do not align with the narrative of the political establishment in power.

Photo Caption: A photo of Gary Lineker with the tweet that got him suspended from MOTD (credit: Getty Images).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *