Gary Lineker has come off the bench after two years in self-imposed Brexit Twitter exile to kick a lump out of Boris Johnson.
In his conference speech on Wednesday, the prime minister said the government had “seen off the European Super League” – and claimed the project’s collapse as a benefit of Brexit.
But campaign group Best for Britain pointed out that Johnson had initially supported the venture – and that it was a private venture by Europe’s biggest football clubs, opposed by most EU countries.
The Match of the Day presenter waded into the row, tweeting: “I’ve not tweeted about Brexit for two years, but this is so disingenuous it needs calling out.
“Football fans and lovers of the game in this country saw off the European Super League, not politicians nor Brexit.”
Johnson said he would unleash the “unique spirit” of the country as he set out on the “difficult” process of reshaping the British economy in his speech to Tory activists in Manchester.
With shortages of lorry drivers and other workers hitting supply chains, leading to empty shelves and queues at petrol stations, Johnson defended his strategy of restricting the supply of cheap foreign labour after Brexit.
And despite a looming National Insurance rise for millions of workers in April to fund a £12 billion annual investment in health and social care, Johnson insisted his new approach would ultimately create a “low-tax economy”.
“That’s the direction in which the country is going now – towards a high-wage, high-skilled, high-productivity and, yes, thereby a low-tax economy. That is what the people of this country need and deserve.
“Yes, it will take time, and sometimes it will be difficult, but that is the change that people voted for in 2016.”
Setting out the need for the health tax hike, Johnson said: “We have a huge hole in the public finances, we spent £407 billion on Covid support and our debt now stands at over £2 trillion, and waiting lists will almost certainly go up before they come down.
“Covid pushed out the great bow wave of cases and people did not or could not seek help, and that wave is now coming back – a tide of anxiety washing into every A&E and every GP.
“Your hip replacement, your mother’s surgery … and this is the priority of the British people.”