BBC presenter Gary Lineker has been accused of spouting ‘ill-informed drivel’ about the Israel-Hamas war after he waded into the row over controversial plans for a pro-Palestinian demonstration on Armistice Day.
The former England striker hit out after Home Secretary Suella Braverman labelled the demo a ‘hate march’, warning that it would carry an ‘obvious risk of serious public disorder…as well as giving offence to millions of decent British people’.
But Lineker, no stranger to courting controversy with his opinions on social media, fired back – prompting former Tory minister Jonathan Gullis to accuse the millionaire of churning out ‘ill-informed drivel’ online and making a mockery of BBC standards.
It came as Britain’s Chief Rabbi Sir Ephraim Mirvis slammed pro-Palestinian protesters for, he claimed, ‘standing alongside’ advocates of terrorism promoting ‘hateful extremism’ – amid concerns pro-Hamas activists are muddying the nature of international protests.
Ministers took to social media in force on Friday as it emerged that organisers of Palestinian solidarity marches were plotting their biggest one yet for November 11, following weeks of other marches and rallies across the UK.
Gary Lineker hit out at Suella Braverman after she urged police to ‘ensure public safety’ if a planned pro-Palestinian march goes ahead in London on Armistice Day
Chief Rabbi of the UK, Sir Ephraim Mirvis, has warned pro-Palestinian supporters that they may be standing shoulder-to-shoulder with people supporting ‘hateful extremism’
Organisers are hoping to attract as many as a million people to the pro-Palestine march scheduled for Armistice Day (pictured: last weekend’s rally on October 28)
Lineker’s comments on social media prompted fury from Conservatives, who accused him of perpetuating ‘ill-informed drivel’
Historian and broadcaster Simon Schama, who has also worked for the BBC, has challenged Lineker on his views
Former minister Jonathan Gullis said Lineker was a ‘snooty sneering “star”‘ who had ‘a limited capacity to understand what is really going on’
Rishi Sunak has already hit out at proposals over fears of damage to the Cenotaph on Whitehall, branding the protest plans ‘provocative and disrespectful’ on a day when millions of people pause to remember those killed in wars in the past century.
Sharing a post by Mr Sunak in which he described such a demonstration as ‘provocative and disrespectful’, the Home Secretary had tweeted: ‘I agree with the Prime Minister. It is entirely unacceptable to desecrate Armistice Day with a hate march through London.
‘If it goes ahead there is an obvious risk of serious public disorder, violence and damage as well as giving offence to millions of decent British people.
‘I have full confidence in the Metropolitan Police to ensure public safety and take all factors into account as they have done in similar situations in the past.’
After she appeared to pass responsibility on to the police, Mr Lineker, who has courted controversy in the past over his political statements while working for the national broadcaster, replied: ‘Marching and calling for a ceasefire and peace so that more innocent children don’t get killed is not really the definition of a hate march.’
Lineker’s intervention appeared to make a mockery of BBC efforts to tone down the political posturing of its highest paid star.
BBC director-general Tim Davie introduced social media guidelines this year after Mr Lineker caused uproar by likening Mrs Braverman’s language on illegal migrants to the Nazis.
Former minister Jonathan Gullis said Mr Davie’s attempt to muzzle the TV pundit appeared to have had the opposite effect, adding: ‘Gary Lineker shows yet again his limited capacity to understand what is really going on.
‘But sadly this snooty sneering ‘star’ of the BBC has been empowered by Tim Davie to carry on boring the nation with his ill-informed drivel.’
Tom Hunt, vice chairman of the Common Sense group of Tory MPs, said: ‘It says a lot about Gary Lineker that he thinks it’s appropriate for these marches to take place on Armistice weekend. He’s wrong on virtually every issue he clumsily wades into. He should stick to football.’
Lineker was also tackled by historian and broadcaster Simon Schama, who has also worked for the BBC.
Mr Schama, who is Jewish, replied to the footballer’s tweet: ‘Why would you have a ceasefire with terrorists (Hamas) whose leaders have explicitly said they want to do October 7 again and again until Israel is annihilated?’
Mr Lineker who faced criticism for failing to condemn Hamas right after its attacks, claimed Mr Schama was making a ‘different point entirely’, adding: ‘Doesn’t make it a hate march.’
The BBC declined to comment on his latest outburst, but a source stressed that the new guidance let stars ‘express opinions about the issues that matter to you… issues that may be the subject of public and political debate’.
Sharing a post by Mr Sunak in which he described such a demonstration as ‘provocative and disrespectful’, the Home Secretary had tweeted: ‘I agree with the Prime Minister. It is entirely unacceptable to desecrate Armistice Day with a hate march through London.’
Marches have been held in London every weekend since the Hamas terror attacks of October 7. Pictured are protesters on Westminster Bridge last Saturday
Gary Lineker’s comments came despite attempts by BBC director-general Tim Davie (pictured) to curtail the social media antics of top presenters
A pro-Palestinian protest took place at King’s Cross Station on Friday night despite the fact it was banned – two people were arrested
Britain’s Chief Rabbi Sir Ephraim Mirvis, meanwhile, has warned that people who take part in pro-Palestinian rallies run the risk of standing shoulder-to-shoulder with people expressing support for Hamas – a proscribed terror group in the UK.
Sir Ephraim, writing for The Times, claims that pro-Palestinian protesters are ‘standing alongside’ extremists, saying it is ‘a stain on our common humanity that so many seem to have lost sight of the moral distance between Hamas and Israel’.
A minority of protesters at rallies have appeared to support Hamas’ murderous incursion into Israel on October 7 that killed some 1,400 people – with some supporting calls for ‘jihad’ and ‘intifada’ (uprising).
The Chief Rabbi wrote: ‘The world feels different because at the very moment when it should be clearer than ever what is meant by Hamas’s “resistance”, “jihad”, “uprising”, or “intifada”, more and more people are now openly calling for these things in cities across Britain and the world.
‘This is hateful extremism. We must have the moral courage to call it by its name and to face it down.’
Meanwhile Transport Secretary Mark Harper revealed on Friday he had granted police powers to block a planned demo at King’s Cross station, after a similar protest took over Liverpool Street Station earlier this week. Two people were arrested.
The Metropolitan Police has vowed to use ‘all its powers’ to stop pro-Palestine protesters disrupting Armistice Day commemorations.
Protesters calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza are planning to take to the streets of London on Saturday November 11. Marches involving tens of thousands of people will also take place in cities across the UK tomorrow.
There are fears marchers could disrupt the two-minute silence commemorating the war dead as well as the daytime and evening Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall. The latter is usually attended by members of the Royal Family.
Posting on the X social media site, Mr Sunak said: ‘To plan protests on Armistice Day is provocative and disrespectful, and there is a clear and present risk that the Cenotaph and other war memorials could be desecrated, something that would be an affront to the British public and the values we stand for.
‘The right to remember, in peace and dignity, those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice for those freedoms must be protected.
‘I have asked the Home Secretary to support the Met Police in doing everything necessary to protect the sanctity of Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday.’
Protesters clash with police during a demonstration on Whitehall on October 28. Saturday has been the main day for pro-Palestine marches in London and across the UK
Rishi Sunak said in a statement that plans to protest the Hamas-Gaza war on Armistice Day were ‘provocative and disrespectful’
Tom Tugendhat, the security minister and a veteran who served in Afghanistan and Iraq, today called the protests ‘inappropriate’ and said he had written to Mr Khan to ask him to consider the ‘options available’.
Concern has focused on plans for a huge march in London next Saturday, Armistice Day. Organisers plan to bus in thousands of people from the North and Midlands.
Organisers of the demo have pledged to avoid the Whitehall area where the Cenotaph war memorial – the focus of national remembrance events – is located.
But Mr Tugendhat told BBC Breakfast: ‘Let’s be clear, the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign has said that they want to march on Remembrance Sunday, and that is a matter of great concern to me.’
He added: ‘It is a moment where we remember those we lost, and I think for the whole country the Cenotaph is sacred ground and the idea that on a day like Remembrance Day you would have a protest going past it, I don’t think that is acceptable.
‘That is why I have written to the Mayor of London, and to Westminster Council, and to the Metropolitan Police asking them to look very carefully at the powers that they have and to consider what options they have available, because personally I don’t think this is an appropriate moment for a protest.’
However, Mr Khan shot back: ‘If this security minister knew his brief, he would know the only person in the country that can ban marches is the Home Secretary – his colleague in Cabinet.
‘So rather than writing these public letters to me, rather than this posturing when he’s doing media – speak to the Home Secretary.’
Large pro-Palestinian demonstrations have taken place in London and other cities every weekend since Hamas attacked Israel, killing more than 1,400 people.
Israel’s retaliatory strikes have killed 9,227 people in Gaza, according to the Hamas-run health authority, after the October 7 terror attack that killed 1,400 Israelis
A man carries a boy to safety following an Israeli strike on the entrance of the Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City; Israel maintains that the building is being used to cover a Hamas base
Devastation after Israeli airstrikes on Maghazi in the centre Gaza Strip on November 3
People examine the wreckage of buildings that were hit during Israeli air raids carried out in Khan Yunis, Gaza
People attend the funeral of Palestinian journalist Mohammed Abu Hattab after he was killed by a strike in Khan Younis
Retaliatory strikes by Israel have killed 9,227 people, according to the Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza.
Tens of thousands are expected in the capital on Saturday, despite complaints that previous protests have been marred by anti-Semitism and calls for the destruction of Israel.
The Metropolitan Police has the power to request a ban on marches if there is concern that they could provoke unmanageable disorder.
Police chiefs indicated on Friday that they were not planning to ban the march, provided demonstrators keep away from Whitehall, where the nation will mark Remembrance Sunday the following day.
Karen Findlay, who is Scotland Yard’s ‘gold commander’ in overall control of policing protests this weekend and next, indicated that the Met was happy to let the march go ahead – even if it had to draft in officers from outside forces to maintain order.
Friends of Al-Aqsa, one of the groups organising the Armistice Day protest, said it expected hundreds of thousands of people, but it would avoid Whitehall.
Spokesman Ismail Patel said: ‘We will not be at the Cenotaph. We understand the sensitivity of the date.’
Source: | This article originally belongs to Dailymail.co.uk