Gary Lineker calls for Brexit debate to 'go back to the public' after appearance at 2019 South Shields Lecture

Footballing legend Gary Lineker has spoken passionately about the ongoing Brexit debate following a lecture appearance in South Shields.

Saturday, 26th October 2019, 10:44 am
Updated Sunday, 27th October 2019, 11:16 am

The former striker was David Miliband’s guest speaker at the 2019 South Shields Lecture, held at Harton Academy and attended by more than 600 people.

After the talk, which covered Football, Brexit and Everything in Between on Friday, October 25, Lineker spoke to the Gazette about his political views, what he thinks the next step should be for Brexit and why he is pro-Remain.

The pundit criticised the Brexit deal proposed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, ahead of the UK’s scheduled exit date of Thursday, October 31, and called for any decision to go back to the public in the name of democracy.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

“When we were given the option it was pretty vague ‘what does Leave mean?’ and there are so many versions of a Leave and a deal and a no-deal and nobody knew that back then and I think now we're in a position where now we’re actually starting to understand the basis of the deal,” he said.

“It’s fairly obvious to me there’s nothing particulary positive in it. My point of view is always go back to the public and ask them … I think that’s democracy.

“I think you’re entitled to, with a democracy, learn from certain things and then form some kind of opinion.”

The ramifications of leaving the EU are “now much clearer” than they were at the time of the 2016 referendum, Lineker added, and that the issues of trade, freedom of movement and Northern Ireland were not fully understood when the UK took to the polls three years ago.

Gary Lineker at the South Shields Lecture hosted by former MP David Miliband, at Harton Academy.

He also criticised what he called “lies and illegalities” told to the public during the campaign for Brexit.

The footballer added: “The real democractic way now would be to go back to the people now that they know pretty much what the deal entails, and they can find out if they want to, or they might just say ‘actually, not a good idea, let’s Remain’ – which ultimately would be better.”

This was Lineker’s first visit to South Shields, he said, and that he was thankful for the warm reception and “intelligent questions” from the event’s guests which ranged from his favourite flavour of crisp (salt and vinegar won out) and the best goal he ever scored (the most important, he said, was against Poland in the Mexico world cup, and the best in terms of skill was at Old Trafford, the only time he scored from outside the box).

The South Shields lecture series was launched by Mr Miliband while he was the town’s MP between 2001 and 2013.

The pair in conversation and on stage at Harton Academy.

Following his resignation from politics, he pledged to “bring something back” to the community which had made him feel so welcome – and at Friday’s talk, he echoed his thanks to the people of the town for their continued support.

The South Shields Lecture series was established by David Miliband in 2001.