England legend Gary Lineker is backing a campaign for a second Brexit referendum by declaring: “Some things in life are more important than football.”
The ex-footballer has joined forces with the People’s Vote group as they launch a series of rallies and protests across the UK calling for a referendum on the final Brexit deal.
Lineker, who has regularly been vocal about the UK’s departure from the EU on social media since the Leave vote in 2016, said: “I spent most of the last few weeks totally focused on a fantastic World Cup.
“But it was impossible to avoid what was happening in the Brexit debate back home.
“Now I’m back I find the whole thing more bewildering and worrying than ever.
“Whether you voted Leave or Remain, did anyone really vote for the mess we seem to be in, let alone the prospect of no deal with all the terrible consequences attached to that?”
Lending his support to the People’s Vote campaign, the sportsman-turned-broadcaster claimed Brexit “feels like it is going very wrong indeed”.
He added: “The politicians seem unable to resolve the problem the people gave them in voting to Leave.
“That is why I think there should be a People’s Vote on the final deal, and why I am sending best wishes and good luck to the campaigners who will be stepping up the pressure over the summer.”
As host of the BBC’s Match of the Day, Lineker is the corporation’s highest paid on-air talent with a pay packet of between £1.75m and £1.76m a year.
A BBC source told Sky News that Lineker’s position as a freelance broadcaster, and a presenter who does not front news or politics programmes, means he is clear of the corporation’s rules on impartiality.
The People’s Vote campaign will hold rallies in cities including Bristol, Edinburgh, Newcastle, Cambridge, Cardiff, Liverpool and Birmingham over the next three months.
The group’s so-called “summer of action” will culminate in a march through central London on 20 October, which they are promising will be the “biggest Brexit protest yet”.
On the two-year anniversary of the Brexit vote last month, more than 100,000 joined a previous People’s Vote march in London calling for a referendum on the UK’s final departure deal, according to organisers.
Campaigners hope to step up pressure on MPs ahead of them holding a parliamentary vote on any agreement Prime Minister Theresa May strikes with Brussels, which is due by the end of October.
They hope to deploy a one million-strong army of internet activists to contact friends and family to write to MPs and address key groups of voters through social media.
Supporters will also submit motions and resolutions through local Labour parties asking the national party for a debate and vote on a second Brexit referendum at Labour’s conference in Liverpool in September.
Labour have not ruled out backing another public vote on the UK’s divorce from the EU.
Meanwhile, Conservative-leaning People’s Vote supporters are also planning a rally at the Tory conference in Birmingham later this year.
However, Mrs May has consistently rejected any suggestion there could be another Brexit referendum.