Gary Lineker has criticised Rishi Sunak, railed against Brexit and mocked high-profile Tories despite warnings from BBC managers to stay away from current affairs.
Mr Lineker, the corporation’s highest-paid presenter, came under fire on Tuesday after comparing the Government’s migration policy to Nazi Germany.
He claimed the language used by Suella Braverman, the Home Secretary, on illegal Channel crossings was “not dissimilar to that used by Germany in the 30s”.
Here, we look at his other political interventions in recent years, and times he has been slapped down by BBC chiefs and even his own colleagues.
Mr Lineker voiced agreement with a Twitter user who said the Government “could ‘stop the boats’ tomorrow… but they don’t want to. They would rather have the optics and language of ‘invasion’ to enrage their flagging base”.
Responding to Mr Sunak’s comments about Northern Ireland having access to the Single Market, Mr Lineker, who backed Remain, wrote: “This is sensational. Not a hint of irony. Quite brilliant.”
The day before, he had written: “So we’re getting Brexit done… again.”
Mr Lineker mocked Therese Coffey, the Environment Secretary, who suggested citizens unable to find tomatoes could eat turnips instead.
He invoked the downfall of Liz Truss, whose short-lived premiership was compared to the lifespan of a lettuce, by asking: “Do turnips outlast lettuces?”
Giving his personal view on the removal of Shamima Begum’s citizenship, he wrote: “She was a child. Manipulated and groomed. This feels very wrong.”
Mr Lineker shared a video arguing that illegal immigrants who arrive on small boats should be allowed to “contribute, work and take care of their family” by being granted citizenship.
The tweet he shared read: “So why can’t we let them? Why leave them to fester in a hotel with the far-Right screaming abuse at them? Give them legal status and get them going.”
On Formula 1 banning its drivers making political statements, Mr Lineker wrote: “Well played Lewis Hamilton. No point having a huge platform if you don’t use it for good. Free speech and all…”
Mr Lineker made another dig at Brexit while in an airport arrivals queue.
He wrote: “Another monster queue at customs at a European city next to deserted lanes for EU members. The delights of Brexit.”
Mr Lineker shared a link to a podcast by Marina Purkiss, the Left-wing activist and commentator, who branded Lee Anderson, the deputy chairman of the Conservative Party, “30p Lee” in a jibe over his past comments around food bank use and families budgeting.
Mr Lineker mocked Mr Anderson’s elevation to a major Conservative role, writing “fantastic appointment” with two laughing emojis.
Mr Lineker retweeted a post by Nadia Whittome, the Labour MP, about BP profits and the need for a windfall tax.
Mr Lineker asked: “How do they [the Government] get away with this avarice?”
When someone wrote “because people keep voting for them”, he replied: “Indeed.”
On water pollution, he retweeted a Liberal Democrat list of Tory MPs who voted against an amendment on sewage.
He asked: “Why on earth would you do this?”
Mr Lineker labelled trophy hunting “sickening”, as he shared a petition to ban it.
Mr Lineker retweeted a post calling Ms Braverman “utterly devoid of sensibility” after an exchange between the Home Secretary and a Holocaust survivor.
Michelle Donelan said the BBC should be “conscious” of recent comments made by Mr Lineker.
The then culture secretary was speaking to The News Agents podcast about remarks Mr Lineker had made on the same show about the World Cup in Qatar and racism in America.
“There is a problem with impartiality and the BBC, they would say that they’ve recognised that themselves,” she said.
Mr Lineker hit out at the Home Office after the second refugee he took into his Surrey house faced 18 months of “hell” in the UK’s asylum system.
He revealed that the 26-year-old man was caught up in a military coup and able to escape 18 months of imprisonment, only to be “treated like s***” in Britain.
The BBC found that Mr Lineker had breached its impartiality rules over a comment he made about the Conservative Party having “Russian donors”.
Mr Lineker had shared an article about Ms Truss, then foreign secretary, urging Premier League teams to boycott the Champions League final in Russia, with the comment: “And her party will hand back their donations from Russian donors?”
Mr Lineker criticised James Cleverly, the Foreign Secretary, after he suggested LGBT football fans attending the World Cup in Qatar should be “respectful of the host nation”.
Mr Cleverly had urged fans to “respect the culture” of the host nation, where homosexuality remains a crime.
Responding to his comments on Twitter, Mr Lineker said: “Whatever you do, don’t do anything Gay. Is that the message?”
Tim Davie, the BBC’s director general, said that reigning in Mr Lineker’s tweeting was a “work in progress”.
He told a parliamentary committee: “I’m very supportive of Gary. I think he is a brilliant presenter.
“It is a work in progress in terms of where he draws the line. We have had a conversation and I think he understands the guidelines.”
Neil Henderson, a senior BBC journalist, questioned whether Mr Lineker had a contract allowing him to breach BBC impartiality after he tweeted about sewage being pumped into the sea.
Mr Lineker had written: “As a politician how could you ever, under any circumstances, bring yourself to vote for pumping sewage into our seas? Unfathomable!”
Mr Henderson later deleted his tweet and apologised.
Mr Lineker claimed he had spoken to Mr Davie, the BBC’s director-general, “quite a few times in recent weeks” and that he was “perfectly happy” with his conduct on social media.
His comments came after new guidelines and training were announced by the BBC to “ensure the highest possible standards of impartiality” among staff at the broadcaster.
Mr Lineker appeared to joke about the BBC’s plans to change its social media rules.
“Think I’ve got it: no more than six people that work with the BBC can tweet together in a pub after 10pm,” he wrote.
In 2018, he was criticised by Jonathan Agnew, a BBC cricket broadcaster, after he posted a string of tweets about Brexit.
Mr Agnew wrote: “Gary. You are the face of BBC Sport. Please observe BBC editorial guidelines and keep your political views, whatever they are and whatever the subject, to yourself.
“I’d be sacked if I followed your example. Thanks.”
Mr Lineker hit out at critics claiming that certain child refugees at a Calais camp look considerably older than 18, prompting him to post on Twitter: “The treatment by some towards these young refugees is hideously racist and utterly heartless. What’s happening to our country?”
In response to criticism over that tweet, he added: “Getting a bit of a spanking today, but things could be worse – Imagine, just for a second, being a refugee having to flee from your home.
“Must say though, I’m rather chuffed to have been called a ‘luvvie’.”