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Boris Johnson ‘disagrees with Dominic Cummings over plans to scrap BBC licence fee’

Boris Johnson disagrees with Dominic Cummings over plans to scrap the BBC licence fee, it was claimed last night.

The Prime Minister wants ‘reform rather than revolution’ when it comes to the future of the corporation.

He is less keen on abandoning the fee than his chief aide Mr Cummings, according to the Times.

Mr Cummings is said to be ‘ideological’ about replacing the fee with a voluntary subscription system.

An ally of Mr Johnson said: ‘The PM is not as gung-ho on the licence fee as Dom.

‘With Dom it is ideological – he believes the licence fee should be scrapped. With the PM it’s more reform than revolution.’

Boris Johnson waving as he leaves 10 Downing Street last week. He is said to want 'reform rather than revolution' when it comes to the future of the BBC

Boris Johnson waving as he leaves 10 Downing Street last week. He is said to want 'reform rather than revolution' when it comes to the future of the BBC

Boris Johnson waving as he leaves 10 Downing Street last week. He is said to want ‘reform rather than revolution’ when it comes to the future of the BBC

Dominic Cummings, special adviser to Boris Johnson, leaving his north London home. He is said to be 'ideological' about replacing the license fee with a voluntary subscription system

Dominic Cummings, special adviser to Boris Johnson, leaving his north London home. He is said to be 'ideological' about replacing the license fee with a voluntary subscription system

Dominic Cummings, special adviser to Boris Johnson, leaving his north London home. He is said to be ‘ideological’ about replacing the license fee with a voluntary subscription system

Dame Helen Mirren says that BBC licence fee has ‘had its day’ and claims the charge is not necessary 

Dame Helen Mirren has said the licence fee has ‘had its day’.

The actress, who has previously protested the scrapping of free TV licences for over-75s, said while ‘we cannot lose the BBC …we are moving past’ the charge being necessary.

Her comments come amid speculation Number 10 will scrap the fee and replace it with a Netflix-style subscription service.

Speaking at the Kiln Theatre in Kilburn, North London, Dame Helen said: ‘I think that the licence fee has had its day. Possibly, I think it is on its way out.’

Last year, Dame Helen joined fellow stars Angela Rippon and Sir Lenny Henry in signing an open letter which called for the reinstatement of free TV licences for all over-75s.

It followed the BBC’s decision to only provide free licences to those who receive pension credit benefit to save money after the Government said it would no longer pay for the provision.

Dame Helen’s intervention aptly came as she finished filming an upcoming heist film about pensioners who protest having to pay for their TV licences.

The Duke, which co-stars Jim Broadbent, is based on the true story of an elderly thief who steals a valuable painting in opposition to the charge.

In a further development, it emerged new culture minister John Whittingdale said such a move would be ‘politically utterly impossible’.

In comments in an interview the day before he was given the job in the post-Brexit reshuffle, he said the only way to move to a subscription model was to ‘turn off Freeview and move it all online’.

It comes as Dame Helen Mirren said the licence fee has ‘had its day’.

The actress, who has previously protested the scrapping of free TV licences for over-75s, said while ‘we cannot lose the BBC …we are moving past’ the charge being necessary.

Before the Conservative election victory last December, Mr Johnson suggested the broadcaster, which clashed with the Conservatives during the campaign, faced a big shake-up if he won power.

He said he was looking at whether it made long-term sense to impose a £154.50 annual levy on all homes with TVs.

As an initial step, the licence fee could be decriminalised, ending the corporation’s power to prosecute non-payers. 

Mr Johnson said the enforcement regime, which leads to a small number of offenders being jailed, was ‘heavy-handed’. 

He told workers at a haulage firm in Washington, Tyne and Wear, in December: ‘How long can you justify a system whereby everybody who has a TV has to pay to fund a particular set of TV and radio channels? That is the question.

‘At this stage, we are not planning to get rid of all TV licence fees, although I am certainly looking at it.

Dame Helen Mirren seen making her way through LAX airport yesterday. The actress has said the BBC licence fee has 'had its day'

Dame Helen Mirren seen making her way through LAX airport yesterday. The actress has said the BBC licence fee has 'had its day'

Dame Helen Mirren seen making her way through LAX airport yesterday. The actress has said the BBC licence fee has ‘had its day’

Boris Johnson and Dominic Cummings leaving Downing Street for the Houses of Parliament

Boris Johnson and Dominic Cummings leaving Downing Street for the Houses of Parliament

Boris Johnson and Dominic Cummings leaving Downing Street for the Houses of Parliament

‘What I will say is that – I am under pressure not to extemporise policy on the hoof – but you have to ask yourself whether that kind of approach to funding a TV, a media organisation, still makes sense in the long term, given the way other organisations manage to fund themselves.

‘That is all I will say. I think the system of funding by what is effectively a general tax, isn’t it, everybody has a TV, it bears reflection, let me put it that way.’

Mr Johnson’s intervention came amid a row between the Tories and the BBC over its election coverage. 

Senior party sources accused the corporation of bias and the Prime Minister was angered by the broadcaster’s response to his decision to turn down an interview with broadcaster Andrew Neil. 

Source: Daily Mail – Articles

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