Express & Star

Mark Andrews: Sign of a sleeker tomorrow, Gary's own goal is a big win for Putin, and Rishi helps Macron walk tall

As a lover of beautiful solutions to everyday problems, I was naturally drawn to an email about how a 'sleek, innovative and reduced-carbon design' had won a national competition.

Last updated
Gary Lineker comments on Illegal Migration Bill

Then I saw it was for a motorway gantry sign.

You have to feel for the un-named public-relations officer who put that out, though. Somebody who dreamed of writing for Ferrari, Patek Phillipe or Gieves & Hawkes. But somehow ended up at the Highways Agency.

* * *

Are Gary Lineker's comments likening government talk about small-boat crossings to that used by Nazi Germany reprehensible? Yes. Does the defence of free speech mean we should support the right of people like Lineker to spread his bile? Certainly.

Should he be sacked from presenting Match of the Day? Well probably not for his Twitter activity. Gary is just the Left's answer to Lawrence Fox, and his oddball activism no more impacts on his ability to present Match of the Day than Larry ranting about face masks stops him from doing a second-rate impression of John Thaw.

The real reason we should be questioning Mr Lineker's employment should surround the small matter of whether giving him £1.35 million a year to ask Micah Richards whether he thinks Neal Maupay was offside is really a good use of public funds.

Many people in this region will remember how Billy Wright managed to present football coverage perfectly competently for many years, and on a relatively modest salary.

And he did so with considerably more dignity than Mr Lineker.

* * *

The other thing that seems to have been missed about Lineker's comments is their potential to be hijacked for propaganda in the Ukraine war.

From the very start Vladimir Putin has told the lie that his actions are about defending the Ukraine from 'neo Nazi' influence. And while this might seem risible to us, it probably seems far more believable in a country which lost 27 million people during the Second World War, and where the government holds powerful control over the media.

Putin will probably spin Lineker's outburst as a distinguished and respected media figure taking a brave stand against neo-Nazi forces which are arming Ukraine.

Nice one, Gary.

* * *

Rishi Sunak and Emmanuel Macron had a special one-to-one meeting yesterday, with neither man having any aides present. This was 'highly unusual' said the pundits, sparking speculation about what they were discussing and why they got on so well.

I suspect Macron just fancied being the tallest man in the room for a change.