Prime Minister Boris Johnson scraps plans to roll out superfast internet across the UK after promising to deliver key campaign pledge by 2025
- Strong full-fibre broadband was promised to all UK homes and business by 2025
- The Tory pledge was made by PM-to-be Boris Johnson in June of last year
- The downgraded target will reach 85 per cent of the UK by 2025, not every home
Boris Johnson has scrapped his manifesto promise to roll out superfast internet to every home and business by 2025.
Full-fibre and gigabit-capable broadband to every home and business across the UK by 2025 was a key Conservative manifesto pledge in the 2019 general election.
But the Prime Minister downgraded the target to reach 85 per cent of the UK, according to an infrastructure report.
Doubts over the Government’s ambitious pledge on gigabit-capable broadband came to the fore last month after the minister responsible for its roll-out failed to say how confident he felt about making the 2025 target.
Strong full-fibre broadband was promised to all UK homes and business by 2025 in the Tory 2019 election pledge
Conservatives are concerned the backtrack will infuriate the millions of people in the UK who are suffering from bad internet – especially when many are working from home due to coronavirus.
‘There is a worry this will hit old Red Wall seats that switched to the Tories at the last election,’ a Conservative insider told The Sun.
‘These seats cover large areas of small towns and villages who might now miss out on getting superfast broadband.’
Mr Johnson had also pledged £5 billion of public funding to connect all homes and businesses – no matter how rural they are.
But Treasury Spending Review documents released this week reveal the Prime Minister has gone back on his promise.
The infrastructure report said: ‘The government is working with industry to target a minimum of 85 per cent gigabit capable coverage by 2025, but will seek to accelerate roll-out further to get as close to 100 per cent as possible.
‘The government will continue to implement an ambitious programme of work to remove barriers to broadband deployment and maximise coverage in the hardest to reach areas of the country.’
The move means thousands of home may have to wait years to get super-quick internet access.
Alison Walsh, a media consultant from the village of Lillingstoke Lovell, Bucks, said one local business owner moved away because of the poor internet.
‘You can forget things like Netflix and Amazon Prime, they’re beyond us at the moment,’ she told The Sun.
‘Even just paying for things online can take several attempts.
‘We’ve already had one lady move away with her family because her husband was trying to run his own business from home, so they moved to another village where they had better speeds.’
Legislative changes to accelerate progress of high-speed wifi and £5 billion of public funding were among the promises made by Matt Warman, Minister for Digital Infrastructure, today
Matt Warman, Minister for Digital Infrastructure, was grilled last month over the government’s pledge.
‘I think it’s important to be honest that the manifesto commitment that we made itself highlights that this is a difficult challenge – and what you don’t often put is things are difficult in manifestos – but we have also seen the Covid crisis, we have also made a very important, and I think right decision, on the involvement of high-risk vendors, these things make that target harder to reach,’ he told the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee at the time.
‘We are absolutely committed to making sure that we remove every possible barrier and making sure that we set those market conditions as well as they can be.’
Labour MP Kevin Brennan described Mr Warman’s responses as ‘meaningless drivel’, after the minister declined to say on a scale of one to 10 how confident he felt about the 2025 aim.
‘Anybody watching these proceedings will not believe on the basis of those answers that the Government is going to reach the target,’ Mr Brennan said.
A Treasury source told The Sun: ‘We are committed to delivering nationwide gigabit broadband as soon as possible and are investing £5 billion to do so.’