Gary Lineker wades into row over Labours attack ads

Emily Thornberry defends Labour attack ad

Gary Lineker has waded into the row over Labour’s controversial attack adverts against Rishi Sunak. The Match of the Day host took to Twitter today to describe the ad claiming the Prime Minister did not want child sex abusers to be jailed as “awful”.

Mr Lineker made the remark as he retweeted a post about the latest episode of The Rest Is Politics podcast, produced by his production company, which sees hosts Alastair Campbell and Rory Stewart discuss the advert.

The football pundit said: “Fascinating episode, particularly the debate about Labour’s awful ad/tweet.”

But Mr Lineker risks sparking a fresh furore for expressing political views after sparking a BBC impartiality row over previous tweets criticising the Government’s illegal immigration crackdown and comparing language used to that of 1930s Germany.

In early March, the former England footballer retweeted about a Home Office video in which Home Secretary Suella Braverman promoted new laws to get a grip on Channel crossings.

Mr Lineker said: “Good heavens, this is beyond awful.”

In a response to a social media user, the former England footballer then wrote: “There is no huge influx. We take far fewer refugees than other major European countries.

“This is just an immeasurably cruel policy directed at the most vulnerable people in language that is not dissimilar to that used by Germany in the ’30s.”

Mr Lineker was taken off air by the broadcaster but later returned to his Match of the Day presenting role following a boycott by fellow on-air talent.

The BBC has since launched an independent review of its social media guidance for freelancers.

During an appearance earlier this month on The Rest Is Politics, Mr Lineker said that when new social media guidance was introduced by director-general Tim Davie in October 2020, he agreed that he would not stop “occasionally” tweeting about two issues – climate change and refugees.

Mr Lineker’s latest tweet comes as Labour has sparked a backlash from across the political spectrum over a series of attack ads against the PM posted on Twitter.

The biggest outcry was sparked by the first ad in the campaign, which featured a photo of the Prime Minister alongside the words: “Do you think adults convicted of sexually assaulting children should go to prison? Rishi Sunak doesn’t.”

It cited an analysis of official data and said that under the Tories “4,500 adults convicted of sexually assaulting children under-16 served no prison time”.

Sir Keir Starmer has continued to defend the campaign despite the backlash.

During a visit to Great Yarmouth in Norfolk today, the Labour leader said: “I make no apologies for highlighting the failures of this Government.

But Mr Sunak called for “less talk, more action” from politicians as he hit back at the campaign.

The Prime Minister said: “I said at the beginning of this year I was focused on delivering for the British people.

“There were five things I said I wanted to do, which was to halve inflation, grow the economy, reduce debt, cut waiting lists and stop the boats.

“And that’s what I’m focused on, day in, day out, delivering for people.

“And I think that’s what the British people want to see from their politicians: less talk, more action, making a difference on the things that matter.”

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