Those who advocated for a Leave vote in the EU referendum have become significantly more nervous of late, on the hair trigger to dismiss any news not to their liking with “fake”, part of “project fear”, or “it doesn’t mean what you say, but really means what we say”. So it should have surprised no-one when Match of the Day lead presenter Gary Lineker backed the “Peoples’ Vote” campaign and many Leave backers promptly lost it.
The BBC has reported “The BBC Match of the Day presenter said some things in life were ‘more important than football’ … He is backing the People's Vote campaign, a cross-party group including prominent Labour and Lib Dem MPs … They are planning a ‘summer of action’ to step up pressure on MPs to back a vote on the final Brexit deal.”
Paul Waugh of the HuffPost explained “@GaryLineker has tonight backed a referendum on May's final Brexit deal. He has a v big Twitter following that will delight @peoplesvote_uk. And he's free of BBC rules on political impartiality cos freelance/non news role etc”. That just made those opposed to his view more bitter.
And they did not come more bitter than vapid contrarian Brendan O’Neill, who has immediately crawled into action for the increasingly right-leaning Spectator to demand “Does @GaryLineker understand how democracy works?” He does Bren, to the extent of knowing that democracy is a living thing and never set in stone.
There was the predictable response from Piers Morgan, who also wants everyone to know that he’s not blagging tables at the Chiltern Firehouse as he’s so wealthy that he’s spending summer at his place in LA. “Will you also be campaigning for a replay of England's World Cup semi-final game against Croatia? That too went 'very wrong indeed' & I'd like to pretend it never happened so we can have another go at winning it”.
But the response, like Morgan’s view, was irrelevant. And despite the vitriol being hurled at Lineker today from Leave land, he continues to hold Straight and Level, responding to O’Neill “I think I do. You can have a referendum like we did on joining the EU in 1975 and then after a while you can have another to see if the people have changed their views. Presumably that can then happen again, right? Or is there some sort of time limit?”
He also reminds his detractors that “Disagreeing and debate is fine (some of my closest friends have alternative views on Brexit and we get on just fine) but the venomous invective aimed at those with whom you may have an opposing opinion is unsavoury, unhelpful and unnecessary. We all care, you know”.
And as for what he may have said last year, “Happy to admit I’ve now changed my mind. Didn’t envisage at the time that we’d ever contemplate a ‘’no deal Brexit’ and the ensuing carnage that would bring”. In other words, all he is doing is to follow in the footsteps of that greatest of economists John Maynard Keynes, who famously said “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, Sir?”
Except that no-one dumped on Keynes for that. But then, Keynes never had more than seven million Twitter followers and a Saturday night football highlights show.