JACOB Rees-Mogg has said that the Gary Lineker row highlights how the UK could “have a much freer media, as they do in the United States” by abolishing the licence fee.

Appearing on GB News, the Conservative MP said that having a media environment similar to that in the United States would be “better” because it removed the “pretence” of impartiality.

He said: “I think the issue is about the BBC rather than about Gary Lineker’s view.

“He's entitled to have any view he wants, we are all in favour of freedom of speech and people being allowed to say things that we don't agree with, or we may even find offensive, and that's actually fine.

“He can say what he likes. The issue is that the BBC is the state broadcaster and that it's funded by a tax on televisions. If it weren't, then we wouldn't need to worry about its impartiality.

“Actually, if we change the funding mechanism of the BBC, we could have a much freer media, as they do in the United States, where people are allowed to say what they think.

“I think that would be much better rather than this pretence that the BBC is impartial, which it isn’t, and then having rows about particular presenters.”

He added that he felt the licence fee had “passed its sell-by date” and that Lineker should stand to be an MP.

“I have long thought that the licence fee is a constraint on the BBC as it stops it earning revenues by subscriptions on the iPlayer, or by taking advertising.

“It leads to a heavily regulated media based around what the BBC needs and what is needed for a state-funded channel.

“And so, yes, I'm saying the licence fee has passed its sell-by date and it needs to go. I certainly wouldn't pay a licence fee if you don't need it.”

READ MORE: Gary Lineker to return to Match of the Day after BBC row

Asked if the BBC was right to suspend Gary Lineker, he said: “I think Lineker is a distraction.

I think those of us broadly on the right have to be very, very careful about attacking people for freedom of speech, so I'm not fussed about what he says.

“I’m not fussed about his contract, I’m fussed about the fact that the BBC is not an impartial broadcaster but it's funded by all of us and that's the fundamental issue.

“I don’t understand why he doesn't stand for Parliament. He’s highly articulate.”

Tory MP Tom Hunt took to social media to echo Rees-Mogg’s view.

“Times have changed. I sense there is growing support for moving away from the coercive nature of the licence fee.

“Clearly the chaotic handling of the Liniker [sic] affair hasn’t covered them in glory but it’s bigger than just that”. 

The UK is already ranked higher than the United States in the World Press Freedom Index.

Out of 180 countries the UK is 24th while the USA is ranked 45th, with the political polarisation of the country’s media outlets highlighted as a specific problem.