Home Secretary Suella Braverman has accused Gary Lineker of diminishing the tragedy of the Holocaust as ministers engaged in an open row with the BBC presenter over his criticism of their asylum plans.
Commons leader Penny Mordaunt accused Labour of “borrowing from the Gary Lineker playbook” by being the “party of goal hangers” taking easy shots against the Government.
The former England striker hit back at her “clumsy analogy”, saying he was “just happy to have been better in the 6 yard box than you are at the dispatch box”.
The sports pundit has been the centre of an impartiality row after criticising the Government’s “cruel” plans to tackle small boat crossings of the Channel.
He also compared the language surrounding the immigration plans with 1930s Germany.
Ms Braverman said she found the comments “offensive” because her husband is Jewish.
“My children are therefore directly descendant from people who were murdered in gas chambers during the Holocaust, she told the BBC’s Political Thinking podcast.
“To kind of throw out those kind of flippant analogies diminishes the unspeakable tragedy that millions of people went through and I don’t think anything that is happening in the UK today can come close to what happened in the Holocaust.
“So I find it a lazy and unhelpful comparison to make.”
Mr Lineker said he looked forward to presenting Match Of The Day this weekend despite the “ridiculously out of proportion story” surrounding his comments.
Criticising the asylum plan earlier this week, he tweeted: “There is no huge influx. We take far fewer refugees than other major European countries.
“This is just an immeasurably cruel policy directed at the most vulnerable people in language that is not dissimilar to that used by Germany in the ’30s.”
On Thursday, Ms Mordaunt used a Commons appearance to accuse Labour of borrowing from the “playbook” of Mr Lineker, whose 48 goals for England make him one of the nation’s most prolific goalscorers.
“They are a party of goal hangers and the occasional left wing striker, hanging around the goal mouth, poised to seize any opportunities and to take an easy shot,” she told MPs.
“But that only works if the ball is in the right half. This country doesn’t need goal hangers, it needs centre forwards.”
Mr Lineker responded on Twitter: “Thank you for mentioning me in your clumsy analogy. I’m just happy to have been better in the 6 yard box than you are at the dispatch box. Best wishes.”
MPs will debate the Illegal Migration Bill on Monday.
If approved by Parliament, anyone who crosses the Channel in a small boat would be barred from ever re-entering the UK and would only be eligible for asylum in a “safe” third country, such as Rwanda.
Powers would be granted to detain migrants for 28 days without recourse for bail or judicial review, and then indefinitely for as long as there is a “reasonable prospect” of removal.
Published: by Radio NewsHub