Gary Lineker says the start of his presenting career was ‘appalling’

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The Match of the Day host threw his weight behind the Remainer camp of the Brexit vote. Two years after Leave won, he controversially came out in support of a second referendum, known as a People’s Vote. He said he had only decided to get involved in politics after realising “lies” had been told by politicians in the run-up to the 2016 referendum.

This decision, and a number of tweets hitting out at Brexit, saw him face backlash from fans and society at large.

He previously told TalkRADIO that he had “ummed and ahh-ed about whether to come out as a Remainer” but in the end thought it was the right thing to do.

Since 2018, Lineker has remained mostly quiet about Brexit.

He has stuck to presenting Match of the Day and other shows, like tonight’s ‘Sitting on a Fortune’, in which six contestants answer questions in a bid to take up to £100,000 home.

However, in February 2019, Lineker sat down with Russian sports journalist Maria Komandnaya and spoke about topics spanning the political spectrum, including Brexit.

Despite his previous rhetoric, Lineker here conceded that he understood why people had voted to leave the EU.

When Ms Komandnaya asked: “Do you think that people who are not involved in politics should have a political say ad should have a say in political matters?” he replied: “I’m not the kind of person who preaches to other people what to do — I think you can only control your own habits and your own behaviour.

“It’s not for me to tell what people should do.

“I understand why we got into this situation, I understand why people voted for Brexit.”

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Asked why, he said: “It’s because I think they felt disenfranchised, they felt like nobody cared about them, particularly outside of London.

“In the North of England, in places like that where there perhaps hasn’t been the investment and care for people, the investment in the infrastructure.

“And people were fed up with austerity and cuts and difficulties with the NHS and various other things.

“People coming into the country, immigration became a big issue — but that’s not necessarily an issue that involved the EU but it was portrayed as such by our newspapers.”


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While Lineker has in recent years exited the political ring, he last month took aim at Boris Johnson after the Prime Minister claimed his Government “saw off” the European Super League.

A tweet from Best for Britain — a campaign launched to stop Brexit in 2017 — read: “We’ve seen off the European Super League,’ says Johnson, claiming it as a Brexit benefit.

“1. He supported it in the first place.

“2. This was a private venture not linked to the EU.

“3. Italy, France & Spain all opposed it.”

Sharing the post, Lineker replied: “I’ve not tweeted about Brexit for 2 years, but this is so disingenuous it needs calling out.

“Football fans and lovers of the game in this country saw off the European Super League, not politicians nor Brexit.”

While many of Lineker’s followers responded with outrage at Mr Johnson and the Government, others disagreed with the footballer’s view.

One user replied: “Gary seems to forget the public want Brexit.”

A separate person, however, wrote: “Speak out more, Gary.

“People like you and Gary Neville have the ability to reach out to a lot of people who don’t take politicians seriously.”

Sitting on a Fortune airs tonight at 7pm on ITV One.

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