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Nadine fumes at Channel 4 U-turn

(Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)

It’s Rishi Sunak’s big day today. All of Westminster is eagerly awaiting his first major speech since taking office in October. The Prime Minister is expected to set out his plans this afternoon to encourage pupils to study maths until the age of 18. But ahead of Sunak’s address, the hoary issue of Channel 4 privatisation has reared its head again, ruining No. 10’s carefully planned ‘grid’ in the process.

Lewis Goodall of LBC has managed to get hold of a letter to Sunak from Culture Secretary Michelle Donelan. It outlines her recommendation against privatising Channel 4, concluding that ‘pursuing a sale at this point is not the right decision and there are better ways to secure C4C’s sustainability and that of the independent production sector.’ That conclusion flies in the face of previous government commitments to sell-off the broadcaster, most fiercely championed by Donelan’s predecessor, one Nadine Dorries.

Dorries has, predictably, not reacted positively to Goodall’s unhelpfully-timed revelation. ‘Three years of a progressive Tory government being washed down the drain’ she roared on Twitter:

Levelling up, dumped. Social care reform, dumped. Keeping young and vulnerable people safe online, watered down. A bonfire of EU leg[islation] not happening. Sale of C4 giving back £2b reversed. Replaced with what? A policy at some time in the future to teach maths for longer with teachers we don’t yet even have to do so. Where is the mandate- who voted for this? Will now be almost impossible to face the electorate at a GE and expect voters to believe or trust our manifesto commitments.

New year but old wounds: so much for that Christmas truce.

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Steerpike is The Spectator's gossip columnist, serving up the latest tittle tattle from Westminster and beyond. Email tips to or message @MrSteerpike

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