RICHARD Madeley has called Gary Lineker’s comparison of the UK Government’s asylum policies to that of Germany’s in the 1930’s “an insult” and “stupid”.

Appearing on the BBC programme Question Time, Madeley initially defended Lineker’s right to express his opinion about the UK Government’s immigration policies on Twitter.

The Match of the Day presenter has fielded criticism after he said Home Secretary Suella Braverman’s latest move to prevent migrants coming to the UK on small boats from gaining asylum was “immeasurably cruel”.

Downing Street responded by calling Lineker’s comments “unacceptable and disappointing to see” and some Tory MPs have called on the ex-footballer to be sacked from the BBC.

However, Madeley said that Lineker should be allowed to express his opinions under “free speech”.

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"Clearly if he was a political journalist, political presenter or interview in any of the areas of the BBC that we’re talking about, like Newsnight, then clearly he shouldn’t have made those comments,” Madeley said.

"Those comments would be a dereliction of duty and deeply compromising to his programme, to himself, future interviews and of course to the BBC which is publicly funded by us.

“But he’s a sports presenter; he talks about football and games and tactics.”

He added: "And quite how having [denying him] the freedom of speech on – not even on any of his programmes – but on his Twitter page, to say anything he likes within in the law, escapes me.

“I think it’s preposterous to say that he should be muzzled and muffled.”

But the Good Morning Britain host then proceeded to call Lineker’s comments “stupid” – even if he did think he should be allowed to make them.

“If he wants to write something stupid then he’s free to do it,” he said.

The National:

“Of course, what he wrote this week was preposterous.

"I mean, to draw a parallel between the Nazi regime of the 1930s in Germany to our government or any European government – or the Australian government, which has extremely strict rules against immigration – I think was absolutely absurd and, actually, an insult to the memories of the people who died for freedom.

“And an insult to the minorities and the Jewish nation, who were subject to acts of genocide by the then German dictatorship. And to draw a parallel between that and the Conservative government or any government in Europe, is just stupid. But he’s entitled to be stupid.”

It comes after Andrew Marr called the BBC’s focus on Gary Lineker – and not the immigration policies he was criticising – “utterly mad”.

During his radio programme on LBC, he said: “Most of the media seems utterly gripped by whether or not a sports commentator should have tweeted something rude about the government.

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“Rather than by the effect of, for instance, the new migration policy or human slavery or little things like whether or not we’re going to get economic growth to the point where we can actually pay food or energy bills.

"Piddling stuff by comparison, I know, with saint or sinner Gary Lineker.

“The Conservatives, despite having one of their own in place as BBC Chairman, Richard Sharp, remain weirdly obsessive about the corporation.

“They blame it for everything in much the same way that farmers look up and blame the weather.

Marr said Lineker's comments have given the Tories "a new stick to beat the BBC with". 

He added: "But what complicates all of this is that the BBC seems so keen to be beaten.

“The corporation has been leading its bulletins, not on migration policy or anything else in the real world, but on Gary Lineker. And this is utterly mad.

“I’m afraid, and I say this as a grateful former BBC employee who admires the corporation but left to get his own voice back, that the BBC is well and truly stuffed over this one.”