Nadine Dorries denies threatening to cut BBC funding over PM interview

Nadine Dorries denies threatening to cut BBC funding over PM


Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries today blasted her ‘left-wing’ and ‘snowflake’ critics as she criticised the Brit Awards for scrapping male and female categories at next year’s show. 

Ms Dorries made her first appearance in front of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee this afternoon after she was appointed to the role at the Cabinet reshuffle in September. 

She was challenged by MPs on some of the comments she has made on Twitter in the past but she refused to back down. 

Asked what a ‘snowflake leftie’ is, Ms Dorries jokingly replied: ‘Probably my kids.’

She told MPs that she was correct to say that people in the arts sector who had opposed her appointment were ‘left-wing’. 

On the issue of the Brit Awards introducing gender-neutral gongs, she said that she would ‘be concerned that in the future women weren’t fairly represented in those awards’. 

Meanwhile, Ms Dorries also denied threatening to cut the BBC’s funding over a heated interview between Nick Robinson and Boris Johnson. 

It was claimed in October that Ms Dorries had privately told allies that the presenter had ‘cost the BBC a lot of money’ after he clashed with the Prime Minister and told him to ‘stop talking’. 

But she told MPs this afternoon that she ‘never made the comment’ and she had ‘never criticised Nick Robinson’. 

She said the remark had been attributed to her in a report in The Sunday Times ‘but nobody can actually say I said it’. 

Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries today denied threatening to cut the BBC's funding over a heated interview between Nick Robinson and Boris Johnson

Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries today denied threatening to cut the BBC’s funding over a heated interview between Nick Robinson and Boris Johnson

It was claimed in October that Ms Dorries had privately told allies that the presenter had ' cost the BBC a lot of money' after he clashed with the Prime Minister and told him to 'stop talking'

It was claimed in October that Ms Dorries had privately told allies that the presenter had ‘ cost the BBC a lot of money’ after he clashed with the Prime Minister and told him to ‘stop talking’

Ms Dorries lashed out at ‘left-wing’ critics who opposed her appointment as Culture Secretary as she claimed they had used it as a ‘means of political attack’. 

The politician, who is also a bestselling author, said there was a ‘vocal number’ of mostly male figures who had been hostile to her being given the role. 

She told MPs: ‘The arts sector is a pretty huge sector, I don’t think they all opposed my position, but there were certainly a vocal number, mostly, possibly wholly male, who quite used to and quite frequently comment and continue to do so.

‘Were they all from the left? Yes, I think there were a number of people who sadly used my appointment as a means of political attack and that did happen. Were these people quite obviously on the left? Yes.’ 

Ms Dorries has previously taken aim on social media at what she described as ‘left wing snowflakes’.

Asked by the committee what a ‘snowflake leftie’ is, Ms Dorries joked: ‘Probably my kids.’

Asked what an ‘Islington leftie’ is, she replied: ‘Again, one of my kids.’

Ms Dorries denied that she uses the terms ‘quite a lot’, adding: ‘I think I might have used it once in a general term. I’ve certainly never used it as a Secretary of State, which is what I’m here as today.’

The Culture Secretary was asked for her response to the Brit Awards scrapping male and female categories in favour of gender neutral awards. 

She said it was the first time she had heard about the move but added it ‘sounds quite a sad decision’. 

She told the committee: ‘Again, I can’t give an opinion on that because hearing it from you is the first I have heard about it.

‘But women have been used for a very long time to being, you know, if you wanted to look at who used to win awards for novels and many things in the past, men always dominated and my concern would be that women weren’t fairly represented moving forwards.

‘So I would just be concerned on the gender balance issue. Whereas we know we are going to get best female artist, best female producer, best female whatever, I’d be concerned that in the future women weren’t fairly represented in those awards.’  

Part of the Culture Secretary’s job is overseeing negotiations between the Government and the BBC on the future of the licence fee. 

Ms Dorries has criticised the broadcaster in the past and accused it of having a left-wing bias.  

She once described state-run television as ‘more in keeping with a Soviet-style country’.

She insisted after she became Culture Secretary that she did not want a ‘war’ with the broadcaster but suggested it would have to set out how it will change before the next licence fee settlement, which covers the five years from April 2022. 

The issue of bias and the BBC was raised by MPs during today’s committee hearing, prompting Ms Dorries to say: ‘Just for clarity on the Nick Robinson point, I think I might be able to anticipate what you may be saying next, is that I have never criticised Nick Robinson.

Mr Johnson and Mr Robinson clashed in October as the PM conducted a series of broadcast interviews on the eve of his Conservative Party conference speech

Mr Johnson and Mr Robinson clashed in October as the PM conducted a series of broadcast interviews on the eve of his Conservative Party conference speech

‘I didn’t hear the interview that I was supposed to have criticised and I never made the comment so I will just put that one in there in case that was where you were going.’

She added: ‘It was attributed to me but nobody can actually say I said it.’

Mr Johnson and Mr Robinson clashed in October as the PM conducted a series of broadcast interviews on the eve of his Conservative Party conference speech.

Mr Robinson pointedly told Mr Johnson that it was the premier’s first appearance on the Radio 4 Today programme for two years.

During the interview, Mr Johnson was interrupted during a lengthy answer by Mr Robinson, who told him: ‘Prime Minister, stop talking, we are going to have questions and answers, not where you merely talk, if you wouldn’t mind.’

At the end of the interview, Mr Johnson said: ‘It’s very kind of you to let me talk… I thought that was the point of inviting me on your show.’  



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