Gary Lineker has hit back at a Tory MP who made “dangerously provocative” claims that the BBC presenter had called northern voters “racist bigots”.
The Match Of The Day host used Twitter to respond to the “outrageous” comments made by the MP for Stoke-on-Trent North, Jonathan Gullis.
Other Twitter users called Mr Gullis’s false claims “dangerous and libellous nonsense” with one poster adding, “this bloke isn’t fit for office”.
During a Channel 4 News interview on the government’s recent legislation on small boats, the Conservative MP said there were people “I don’t care upsetting”.
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.”
Responding to the clip, one Twitter user wrote: “I don’t think Gary Lineker has actually directly called Red Wall voters ‘Nazis’ Mr Gullis.”
Lineker replied, writing: “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 and announced a review of social media guidelines at the broadcaster.
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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.
He was subsequently asked to “step back” from the popular football highlights show, prompting a boycott by his fellow football pundits and commentators, hitting TV and radio coverage across the BBC.
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.