Campaigners and MPs call for a referendum on defunding the BBC

A Conservative MP has echoed calls by an anti-BBC campaign group for a referendum on whether or not to continue funding the corporation.

The Defund the BBC campaign group has lobbied tirelessly in favour of discriminalising non-payment of the TV licence fee, but is now going one further and requesting a referendum on the future of the Beeb.

Its campaign director Rebbeca Ryan said in a press release: “The BBC’s outrageous cover up of Martin Bashir’s deceit has really exposed the BBC for what it is: Arrogant, out of touch and beyond reform.

“The licence fee was introduced more than 70 years ago and recent polls show that more than half of Brits think the BBC is bad value. It is about time the British people had a say on whether they want to get rid of the licence fee.

“The British people voted to leave one bloated, out of touch institution in 2016. I am confident they will vote to leave another,” Ms Ryan proclaimed, adding: “Defund the BBC will now focus its efforts on securing and winning a referendum on this important issue.”

Earlier this week, Conservative MP Lee Anderson vowed in the House of Commons never to give the BBC “another penny”, blasting the public broadcaster as “rotten” and calling for it to be made a subscription service.

“They don’t speak for me and they don’t speak for the vast majority of people in places like Ashfield and Eastwood, and the sooner they are defunded and as soon as it’s a subscription service, as far as I’m concerned, the better,” Mr Anderson told the Sunday Express.

Another Conservative MP, Jonathan Gullis has expressed his “serious concern” about the “quality, impartiality and relevance of the BBC, adding: “The licence fee is a considerable amount [out] of the pockets of hardworking Brits and therefore it is perfectly reasonable for people to want to have a vote on whether they want it to continue.”

Independent peer Claire Fox also spoke out against the Beeb in the House of Lords earlier this week, accusing the corporation of being “tone deaf” and lacking in “diversity of opinion or thought”.

A BBC spokesman said: “The BBC is the most used media brand in the UK and we continue to offer great value for money. The licence fee remains the agreed method of funding in the BBC Charter until at least 2027.”