Conservatives agreeing to scrap BBC licence fee in return for Unionists’ support would be ‘a great mistake’, says Labour deputy.
Labour’s deputy leader, Tom Watson, has called on the Conservatives to guarantee that they will reject the Democratic Unionist party’s pledge to scrap the BBC licence fee in talks to secure a parliamentary deal.
Watson, who is also shadow culture secretary, has written to his counterpart, Karen Bradley, calling for her to “fight hard” to make sure that the DUP’s election pledge is not on the table as part of any concessions agreed to form a majority government.
“The DUP’s manifesto includes a commitment to ‘freeze then cut or abolish the TV licence’,” said Watson in a letter sent to the culture secretary on Tuesday. “I urge you to fight hard to ensure that this pledge is not included in any agreement, formal or otherwise, between the Conservative party and the DUP.”
The DUP includes potentially scrapping the £3.7bn annual licence fee as one of six election pledges in its manifesto section on increasing family incomes.
“The TV licence fee is a highly regressive tax which was designed for a different era and a world of communications that no longer exists,” the DUP pledge stated. “The success of Netflix and Amazon streaming services shows that subscription-based media can and does work.”