Jeremy Hunt has increased pressure on the BBC to ensure it upholds its reputation for “impartiality” over the suspension of Gary Lineker.

The Chancellor said he “profoundly disagrees” with the presenter’s comments on Twitter, which compared the Government’s new Illegal Migration Bill to rhetoric in Germany in the 1930s.

“I think what this shows and indeed the related debate about the BBC chairman’s appointment… is that impartiality at the BBC is really important,” he told Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday. “The reason that it is a great national institution that we all treasure so much is because it is respected for impartiality, so we need to make sure that what comes out of this is that people’s confidence in the impartiality of the BBC is restored.”

He added that it was “important that we let the BBC sort out these problems” but that the outcome he wanted to see was “trust be maintained in what is a very, very important institution.

“I think that if we believe the BBC should be independent, which I do. If we believe in BBC impartiality, which I do, then we have to let the BBC resolve these issues,” Mr Hunt continued.

The broadcaster has come under increased pressure after it announced last week that Mr Lineker would step back from his presenting duties on Match of the Day “until an agreement is reached on his social media use” following his comments criticising the Government’s asylum policy.

The BBC said the comments breached its editorial guidelines on impartiality.

Regular shows were then disrupted on Saturday after a number of sports presenters and pundits pulled out of programmes in support of the former England striker.

The, Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak also put pressure on the BBC on Saturday evening, claiming in a statement that he hoped the dispute would be concluded in a “timely manner”.

He defended the new Illegal Migration Bill, which bars people who have arrived in the UK via small boats from claiming asylum, claiming his approach “is not only the fair and moral thing to do, it is also the compassionate thing to do”.

More on Gary Lineker

The BBC director general, Tim Davie, said yesterday that he would not resign over the Gary Lineker row, but has apologised for the disruption to sports programming.

“As a keen sports fan I know to miss programming is a real blow and I’m sorry about that. We are working very hard to resolve this situation and make sure we get output on air,” he told the BBC. “Everyone wants to calmly resolve the situation. Gary Lineker’s the best in the business – that’s not for debate.”

Mr Davie also insisted that the concern around Mr Lineker’s removal was upholding impartiality. He said: “We made decisions and I made decisions based on a real passion about what the BBC is and it’s difficult – it’s this balance between free speech and impartiality.

“I honestly do not believe, despite a lot of the commentary, that this is about left or right – it’s about our ability, we’re fierce champions of democratic debate, free speech, but with that comes the need to create an impartial organisation.”

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