Rother Valley MP hits out at BBC's Gary Lineker over immigration row

“Fundamentally everything would be better if we stop calling people we disagree with Nazis, racists, bigots, phobes."

MP ALEXANDER Stafford has backed a controversial government plan to tackle immigration by people in “small boats” — despite backlash over the treatment and “dehumanisation” of people seeking refuge.

Conservative MPs are currently trying to pass the Illegal Migration Bill — which would allow the government to take legal action against asylum seekers and refugees entering the UK.

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The party has pledged to “stop the boats” as one of its five main pledges to the public along with halving inflation, reducing NHS waiting times, to see national debt fall and grow the economy.

Prime minister Rishi Sunak, the son of Southeast African-born parents, outlined his commitment to stop migrants crossing the English Channel in December and said he would detain and return migrants back to their home country without any rights to settle or gain citizenship in the UK. 

A row eruped over tweets last Tuesday by BBC presenter Gary Lineker, who described the bill as an “immeasurably cruel policy directed at the most vulnerable people in language not dissimilar to that used by Germany in the 30s” — a reference to the rise of the Nazi rules.

Mr Lineker was accused of breaking the BBC’s impartiality rules and was temporarily stood down from his broadcasting duties on Saturday night’s Match of the Day which sparked a widespread walkout from colleagues and commentators including Alan Shearer and Ian Wright.

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The programme still went ahead as normal, but without the classic opening theme tune and commentaries of the games, and was reduced to 20 minutes.

Despite the absence of Lineker and co, viewing figures for the football show reached 2.58 million viewers compared to the previous Saturday’s 2.09 million.

Mr Stafford, whose grandfather was born in Ukraine before settling in the UK, took to social media to have his say on the controversy.

“I’m shocked that anyone, let alone someone so prominent, could think controlling our borders, clamping down on illegal immigration and saving lives by stopping people trafficking is not the right thing to do,” he said.

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“Fundamentally everything would be better if we stop calling people we disagree with Nazis, racists, bigots, phobes. 

“Language has become far too negatively charged and we all have a responsibility to tone down the discord. 

“It’s OK to disagree in an amicable way.

“And fundamentally there is nothing wrong with trying to control our borders and protect people from the evils of human traffickers. 

“It is the right, just and humane thing to do.

“And it turns out people would rather watch Match of the Day when it isn’t presented by someone who thinks supporting controlled immigration, stopping illegal migrants, and stamping out people trafficking is a akin to the Nazis. 

“Who would have thought?”  

Mr Lineker will return to the Match of the Day hosting chair on Saturday after talks with the BBC and has vowed to carry on speaking “for those with no voice”.