Rishi Sunak is frustrated that Gary Lineker’s row is overshadowing the immigration plan

Rishi Sunak Gary Lineker

Gary Lineker called the Prime Minister’s plan “immeasurably cruel” (Image: Getty Images/Reuters)

Rishi Sunak seems frustrated that Gary Lineker’s series is making headlines instead of his immigration plans.

The Prime Minister said the “really significant problem here is 45,000 people crossing the Channel illegally” and claimed he was “happy to speak to anyone about his policies”.

But when asked if he would meet the Match of the Day presenter to discuss the matter, he replied: “It’s not about one person”.

It comes amid “growing confidence” that the former England player will return to host the popular BBC show after a weekend in which the channel’s sports coverage was severely disrupted.

Lineker was told to resign after branding the government’s plans to crack down on small boat crossings as “immeasurably cruel” and claiming the language they used was “not dissimilar to that used by Germany in the ’30s”.

Football coverage on BBC TV and radio programs was disrupted over the weekend as other pundits, presenters and reporters – including Alan Shearer, Ian Wright and Alex Scott – left in solidarity.

Speaking to reporters on a flight to a US defense summit, Mr Sunak said people should be given “perspective” and insisted his policies were “compassionate,” reports The Telegraph.


Prime Minister Rishi Sunak speaks to members of the media during a huddle aboard a plane bound for San Diego (Image: Getty Images)

AT SEA, UNITED KINGDOM - SEPTEMBER 7: Migrants tightly packed on a small inflatable boat scoop out water as they attempt to navigate the English Channel near the Strait of Dover, the world's busiest shipping lane, on September 7, 2020 to cross off the coast of Dover. England. Last Wednesday, more than 400 migrants made their way from France to England by sea, either intercepted by British border guards or arriving ashore in their small boats. (Photo by Luke Dray/Getty Images)

Thousands of people risk their lives crossing the English Channel in small boats (Photo: Getty Images Europe)

“The real problem here is that 45,000 people crossed the English Channel illegally last year. That number has increased four or five times in just two years and will continue to increase,” he said.

“That is the main issue we should be talking about. And I believe that we have put forward a set of proposals and a policy that will resolve this situation, and we will do it effectively, it will do it fairly, and it will do it with compassion.

“And we should talk about that. And I’m happy to talk to someone about this policy.’

After dodging a question about whether he’d be willing to meet Lineker, he described him as a “very talented presenter” and said it was a problem “they would have to solve themselves.”

But it comes after his spokesman called Lineker’s comments “unacceptable” and “disappointing” last week.

Other Tories have blasted the football pundit, with Chancellor Jeremy Hunt calling his comments “very distasteful”.

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Gary Lineker and the BBC are reportedly close to resolving their impartiality dispute (Image: Darren Staples/AFP via Getty Images)

Under the proposed new rules, refugees who enter the UK illegally will be permanently banned from either seeking asylum or returning to the country after being deported.

They will not be protected by the UK’s modern slavery laws and will be deported to “a safe third country like Rwanda” as soon as possible, the government said.

Lineker isn’t the only person condemning this — with more than 350 charities, businesses, unions and legal groups recently blasting the “cruel and unworkable” plan.

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https://metro.co.uk/2023/03/13/rishi-sunak-frustrated-by-gary-lineker-row-overshadowing-immigration-plan-18430542/ Rishi Sunak is frustrated that Gary Lineker's row is overshadowing the immigration plan

Justin Scacco

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