A Tory MP has thrown down the gauntlet to former footballer Gary Lineker, telling him to stand at the next election amid an ongoing feud with the BBC presenter.
Jonathan Gullis criticised Lineker last month on social media for signing an open letter against the Rwanda bill, claiming it breached the BBC’s new impartiality rules.
Howerver, the Match Of The Day star hit back on X, saying the MP had not read the new social media guidelines, suggesting he couldn’t read.
Asked about the row on Sky News, Mr Gullis said: “Gary’s constantly trying to get lots of likes on Twitter, or X as it’s now called… I think Gary needs to spend less time virtue-signalling and more time talking about football, which he’s actually very good at.”
He said he would “absolutely” beat Lineker at an election in his constituency of Stoke-on-Trent North, adding: “Let the public decide.”
Mr Gullis has been an MP for the constituency since 12 December 2019, unseating Labour’s Ruth Smeeth.
He explained he wrote to the BBC director-general Tim Davie to complain about Lineker because the incoming chair of the BBC suggested his comments may have been in breach of the guidelines.
Lineker, a staunch critic of the government’s asylum seeker policy, was suspended from presenting Match Of The Day in March, last year, after comparing the language used in the plan with 1930s Germany.
He returned to hosting duties after Mr Davie apologised and said an independent review had been launched looking into the corporation’s social media guidelines, particularly for freelancers like Lineker.
Several of the TV stars co-presenters had also stood down from the show in solidarity.
But Mr Gullis criticised the corporation’s response, saying: “The director-general seems to have just done a whitewash, so clearly Gary Lineker either runs the BBC or the director-general is too scared to actually stand up to him.”
He said the BBC’s name had been “dragged through the mud” by Lineker, claiming he is held to a different standard than less well-known presenters.
Lineker backed the broadcaster’s new rules in September, which say high-profile presenters should be able to express their views on political issues providing they did not extend to activism.
BBC news presenters, however, are subject to stricter impartiality guidelines.