Sir Keir Starmer has accused Conservative members of parliament of being “snowflake MPs waging war on free speech” over the BBC row with Gary Lineker.
The Labour leader called on Rishi Sunak to “take some responsibility” for the incident over the weekend that saw Lineker being taken off air for criticising the government’s migration policy.
Other football pundits refused to appear in solidarity after the Match Of The Day presenter used a tweet to compare the language used in the government’s new asylum policy with 1930s Germany.
During Prime Minister’s Questions, Sir Keir said: “It led to a farcical weekend with the national broadcaster being accused of singing to the government’s tune by its own employees.
“Rather than blame everyone else, why doesn’t he take some responsibility, stand up to his snowflake MPs waging war on free speech?”
But Mr Sunak accused Sir Keir of “the usual political opportunism” as he said both Labour’s shadow attorney general and shadow home secretary “criticised the language” Lineker had used.
The Labour leader then attacked Mr Sunak for the appointment of the head of the BBC, Richard Sharp, who has links to the Conservative Party.
But the PM argued Mr Sharp had been appointed before he was made prime minister and said he backed the “integrity, impartiality” of the BBC and an independent review into the situation.
Sir Keir was taking none of it as he said the PM was spouting forth “mealy-mouthed platitudes, pretending the actions of his party are nothing to do with him”.
“But the whole country saw how he kept quiet and hid behind the playground bullies while they tried to drive someone out simply for disagreeing with them,” the Labour leader added.
“An impartial public broadcaster free of government interference is a crucial pillar in our country, but isn’t that put at risk by the cancel culture addicts on his benches, a BBC leadership that caves into their demands and a prime minister too weak to do anything about them?”
Mr Sunak said he was “not going to take any lectures on cancel culture” from the Labour Party, who he said has done nothing to help the issue of people coming to the UK in small boats.