Piers tweeted this morning: ‘I had one goal when I joined GMB – beat BBC Breakfast in the ratings. On my last day, we did it.
‘That was down to the hard work & dedication of the whole team. They don’t all agree with me, some don’t even like me, but we were a team..and we won. Thanks guys. I’ll miss you.’
On his smash-hit final episode, GMB won the ratings war with rival BBC Breakfast for the first time.
On Tuesday BBC got 1.25m viewers, 33.4% share, compared to GMB’s Average: 1.29m viewers, 35.3% share.
But on Wednesday – in the wake of Piers’ departure – BBC overtook ITV again, with an average 1.42m viewers, compared to 1.21m viewers for GMB.
One petition, called ‘Bring Back Piers Morgan!‘, accused ITV of treating him ‘appallingly’ and another, titled ‘Keep Piers Morgan on GMB for his common sense approach to life‘, now has more than 107,000 signatures.
And a third, which has been signed by more than 38,000 people, describes getting him sacked as ‘an absolute farce’.
The total number of signatures for the three polls is now more than 160,000 – up from 110,000 yesterday afternoon.
On today’s GMB, Kate Garraway addressed co-host Piers’s departure – saying he is ‘passionate’ and ‘authentic’.
Piers Morgan today tweeted a message of thanks to the Good Morning Britain team
Piers happily stopped and smiled for the cameras as he left his west London home with daughter Elise this morning
Mrs Garraway said: ‘That’s the thing about Piers, isn’t he, he is very passionate, he does fly kites and have debates but it always comes from a place of authenticity, he always believes in what he says, and he’s left.
‘He’s decided to quit, and as he put it himself, fall on his sword for free speech.
‘I’ve known him a long time before starting this programme, our friendship will go on, our personal friendship, and he’s been very supportive of me personally.’
The programme’s Health Editor Dr Hilary Jones also paid tribute, saying Mr Morgan ‘has a big heart’.
He added: ‘I’ve had my spats with Piers… but I think he did champion the little people, the people who had no voice.’
ITV’s shares yesterday plummeted by 4.3 per cent amid campaigners writing to ITV and Ofcom over concerns of a ‘chilling effect on free speech’.
They were worried about the way the broadcaster insisted Mr Morgan apologise for expressing his opinion, saying journalists should be ‘free to express their scepticism’ about statements made by high-profile people without the risk of losing their job.
Toby Young, of The Free Speech Union, expressed fears it looked like ITV was ‘happy to censure’ a journalist ‘at the request of a member of the Royal Family’.
Former BBC presenter Andrew Neil, who is launching new channel GB News, said he wished to talked to Mr Morgan about a role, saying he would be a ‘great asset’.
There has been an outpouring of support for Piers on social media
On today’s GMB, longtime friend of Mr Morgan, Kate Garraway, paid tribute to him and said that their friendship would go on
Mrs Garraway said: ‘That’s the thing about Piers, isn’t he, he is very passionate, he does fly kites and have debates but it always comes from a place of authenticity, he always believes in what he says, and he’s left’
The programme’s Health Editor Dr Hilary Jones also paid tribute, saying Mr Morgan ‘has a big heart’
Meghan Markle wrote to ITV’s boss to complain about Mr Morgan hours before the GMB co-host quit following an on-screen row with weatherman Alex Beresford.
The Duchess of Sussex insists she was not upset that Mr Morgan said he ‘didn’t believe a word she said’ in her Oprah interview – but was worried about how his comments could affect people attempting to deal with their own mental health problems, an insider told the Press Association.
Standing firm yesterday, following his departure, Mr Morgan told reporters outside his West London home: ‘If I have to fall on my sword for expressing an honestly held opinion about Meghan Markle and that diatribe of bilge that she came out with in that interview, so be it.’
On Monday Ms Markle went directly to ITV’s CEO Dame Carolyn McCall, the former boss of the left-wing Guardian newspaper, who signed off on the broadcaster’s £1million deal to show the Oprah interview and said yesterday they were ‘dealing with’ the GMB host.
Mr Morgan is understood to have been ordered to apologise – but he refused and quit instead saying he had the right to tell viewers his ‘honestly held opinions’ and declaring: ‘Freedom of speech is a hill I’m happy to die on’.
His departure from ITV’s breakfast show, which he helped transform into a ratings hit that beat its BBC rival for the first time this week, came amid the fallout from the extraordinary Oprah interview that has caused the Royal Family’s worst crisis since Edward VIII’s abdication in 1936.
Hours after it was broadcast Mr Morgan branded Meghan ‘Princess Pinocchio’ after the Duchess said she was suicidal while five months pregnant but was denied any help by the palace.
She also accused the Royal Family of being concerned Archie’s skin would be too ‘dark’ and denying him the title of prince because he is mixed race, with Mr Morgan demanding the Sussexes back up their claims with evidence.
His views, and his refusal to back down in the row, sparked more than 41,000 complaints made to Ofcom, fuelled by an orchestrated social media campaign spearheaded by his critics including several Labour MPs.
But despite Mr Morgan’s years of successful skewering of ministers on the show, which led to a Government boycotts if GMB during the pandemic, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said he ‘would miss him’.