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Ministers blunt Dorries’ BBC axe

January 19, 2022

Rishi Sunak, UK finance secretary, has led a cabinet pushback against calls by culture secretary Nadine Dorries for an end to the BBC licence fee from 2027.

Sunak told Dorries there had not been any cabinet discussion, a view shared by colleagues, according to the FT.

On January 17th Dorries tweeted that funding would be frozen for two years at the BBC and that this licence fee settlement would be “the last”. Thérèse Coffey, the work and pensions secretary, complained in cabinet on January 18th that Dorries had attempted to bounce colleagues into supporting her by suggesting in the tweet that the licence fee would soon be abolished.

Apparently Liz Truss, the foreign secretary, backed Dorries but said it was vital that the BBC World Service had generous funding to counter disinformation from countries including Russia and China.

Downing Street said Johnson was “fully behind Nadine” after she implied the fee that has funded the BBC for a century would be abolished after 2027. The move was universally greeted as part of a political operation to divert from the PM’s woes on lockdown parties.

Dorries was warned not to repeat her threat to scrap the fee when she appeared in the Commons, and she did not mention the plan.

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