Gary Lineker praised for agreeing to house a refugee after Tory MP accused him of 'virtue signalling'

Gary Lineker praised for agreeing to house a refugee after Tory MP accused him of 'virtue signalling'
Stuart C. Wilson / Getty Images

Gary Lineker is reportedly set to welcome a refugee to live in his home after a Tory MP dismissed his concern for asylum seekers as 'virtue signalling'.

The Match of the Day star is currently having his application processed by Refugees at Home, according to a report byThe Mirror.

Lineker signalled his intention to temporarily house a refugee last month when he shared a confirmation email from the charity to Twitter. In response to a critic who asked him "have you housed any [refugees] yet, Gary?" he replied "not yet" and a screenshot of the email.

Shortly before this exchange, Lineker was accused of "virtue signalling" by Tory MP Lee Anderson for describing the government's treatment of migrants crossing the English Channel as "heartless and completely without empathy".

Speaking on talkRADIO last month, Anderson said:

If Gary Lineker wants to email me his full name, address, postcode and details of the accommodation that he currently resides in, I will make sure that's available for the next boat of illegal immigrants to come and live in – bed and breakfast of course.

It's the liberal left again, virtue signalling, trying to say all the right things, trying to tweet out the right messages on social media to look popular. But I'll tell you what, it's not popular, because the silent majority in this country are right behind the common sense group.

It's important to note that claiming asylum is a right enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and crossing the English Channel to do so is not illegal. So Anderson's blanket description of people entering the UK in boats as "illegal immigrants" is not likely to be accurate.

And Lineker did act on his concern.

Speaking to The Mirror, Lineker said that he's ready to house a refugee and isn't at all apprehensive.

The former footballer will undergo an interview and a home visit from Refugees at Home before his application is fully complete. He is not yet aware of who his new guest will be or where they'll be from. He said:

[I'm] not at all [concerned]. I have had so much connection with refugees over the last couple of years. I have met scores of young ­refugees through football schemes and they are genuinely lovely kids and they appreciate any help they can get.

I’m sure it will be fine. I have been thinking of doing something like that for a while.

Asked why he wants to house a refugee, he added:

It’s about being on the right side ­yourself. It’s difficult to change people’s minds, primarily because we have become so tribal about ­whatever the issue is and I think it is perhaps ­exacerbated by social media.

I don’t want to preach to people and tell them what to do. All you can really do is concentrate on what you believe is right and go from there.

Lineker has advocated for refugees since 2015 and is currently undertaking campaign work with the International Rescue Committee. His commitment to house a refugee came after Boris Johnson called for a review of the legal framework that makes it "very, very difficult" to send people who arrive in the UK away again.

Recently, the Home Office have also deployed surveillance aircrafts over the Channel to try to spot migrants attempting to make the crossing. They have been accused of trying to use migrants as a "distraction" from "how badly they have managed" during the coronavirus pandemic.

People are praising Lineker for "putting his money where his mouth is" by housing a refugee.

Ultimately, housing a single refugee won't suddenly change the fortunes of the thousands more in need of somewhere to live and to begin their new life.

But it is already encouraging more people to get involved with charities advocating for refugees and even to house them themselves.

Clearly, Gary Lineker is not simply 'virtue signalling', but genuinely wants to help people with the wealth and resources he has available.

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