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Tue, 31 March 2020

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EXCL Senior Tory MP hits out at 'brutal' methods used by 'nasty' Dominic Cummings

EXCL Senior Tory MP hits out at 'brutal' methods used by 'nasty' Dominic Cummings
2 min read

A senior Tory MP has condemned the "brutal" methods employed by Boris Johnson's top adviser.


Huw Merriman blamed Dominic Cummings for the "nasty streak" he said was running through Downing Street.

In particular, he hit out at a Number 10 briefing that the BBC licence fee was for the chop.

A public consultation is underway into the future of the £154.50 a year charge, with many in government eager to decriminalise non-payment of it.

But a source close to the Prime Minister told the Sunday Times that they wanted to go even further.

"We are not bluffing on the licence fee," they said. "We are having a consultation and we will whack it."

Mr Merriman, who is chair of the Transport Select Committee as well as the all-party group on the BBC, told The House magazine that Mr Cummings had been a "breath of fresh air" in Number 10 over his plans to reform the civil service.

But he added: "Where I get concerned is the somewhat brutal way behind [his methods].

"So the BBC is a good example of that. It's fair enough to say we need to have a conversation about whether the licence fee is going to still be relevant in 2027.

"There's nothing wrong with that. I agree with that conversation. But this whole thing about ‘whacking’, about ‘it's got hundreds of radio stations, and we're going to close them down’.

"It doesn't, it has 63 and so, therefore, the facts aren't correct."

The MP for Bexhill and Battle went on: "There seems to be a sort of nasty streak behind some of these briefings.

“And if our whole mantra is to try and unite the country, after the difficulties we've had over the last couple of years, and this government has a mandate to do that, then I'm not sure why we need to be quite so divisive in the tone and language that we're using. I just don't think it's going to end well.

"Since the election, the BBC has become the subject of various negative briefings and opinions.

“The latest intervention indicated that the BBC would be forcibly slimmed down, moved to subscription and, bizarrely, given a ‘whack’ in the process.

“Given I am the chairman of the APPG for the BBC, I felt that the corporation needed a supportive voice.

“It is absolutely right that the future funding model of the BBC is debated before 2027 when the charter is up for renewal.

“What’s not helpful, and unedifying, is waging some ideological trench warfare on the BBC."

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