Rishi Sunak has said he hopes the BBC can resolve its row with Gary Lineker in a “timely manner” but the dispute is not something the government should get involved with.

In a statement, the prime minister said Lineker “was a great footballer and is a talented presenter”.

But the 62-year-old Match of the Day presenter’s dispute with the BBC over his use of social media is “rightly a matter for them, not the government”, he added.

Mr Sunak said that given the “seriousness of the issue at hand” it was important to “maintain perspective”.

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The prime minister defended the government’s new policy on stopping migrants crossing the Channel.

“Forty-five thousand people crossed the channel illegally in the last year, many of whom have been exploited or trafficked by criminal gangs, putting their lives in danger,” he said.

“We need to break this cycle of misery once and for all and the policy we set out this week I believe aims to do just that.

“It is not only the fair and moral thing to do, it is also the compassionate thing to do.

“There are no easy answers to solving this problem, but I believe leadership is about taking the tough decisions to fix problems.

“I know not everyone will always agree, but I do believe this is fair and right.”

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Boy delivers letter to Lineker

The row began on Tuesday when Lineker tweeted his thoughts on the government’s new policy to stem the flow of small boats crossing the Channel.

He compared the language used by the government to that used in 1930s Germany, when the Nazis came to power.

The BBC deemed the tweet had broken its editorial guidelines on impartiality and said Lineker had been removed from Match of the Day until an agreement could be reached on his use of social media.


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