MP says broadband deal won’t work

David Warburton, Conservative candidate for Somerton & Frome and MP since 2015, has hit back at the Corbyn broadband plan. Of course it is an industry Mr Warburton has some experience of.

The deal may sound attractive but David Warburton reckons it will end up costing the taxpayer around £100bn. And in his view, that will be on top of thousands of job losses in the telecoms sector and at the financial cost of the failure of small businesses that have grown up supplying the market.

His full statement on the Labour Broadband plan follows:

The UK enjoys one of the most highly invested and successful telecoms sectors on earth, and it was an industry I was fortunate enough to be closely involved in, long before politics raised its head.  Telecoms provides tens of thousands of jobs, supporting innumerable other businesses in its vast supply chain – all coughing up very significant tax revenues to the public sector.   As the joint open letter published by the telecoms industry following Labour’s announcement of free state-owned broadband says, such plans would fundamentally jeopardise the future of more than 600 internet service providers, as well as BT. 

BT itself was one of the first businesses in which ordinary people bought small shareholdings, and its shares are still owned by almost a million people. These shares, of course, fell dramatically on Labour’s bombshell policy announcement, leaving many people worse off just from Labour putting the idea forward.  The CEO of BT has ridiculed Labour’s notional figures for nationalising its huge operation.  BT pays the wages of thousands of staff, along with the pensions of hundreds of thousands more. 

But will the total price to the taxpayer – knocking on the door of £100 billion, with ongoing costs every year, plus small share investment losses for almost a million people, thousands of job losses and the losses of the competitive market, 600 service providers, and the investment and innovation behind them – be worth it?

It’s hard enough trying to deal with BT’s customer service, but can you imagine calling the government’s State-owned monopoly broadband company and trying to arrange an installation? At the moment, broadband is often bundled with pay-tv, mobile and other services.  These add-ons are used to generate costs and keep prices down.  People would still need these and have to pay for them, alongside paying through their taxes for their broadband, with no such savings for the state provider.  Unless, of course, mobile, tv and all else will also be State-managed?

Australia, as you may know, tried a similar thing in 2016, setting up the National Broadband Network.  It didn’t last long – unravelling at a cost of AUS$73 billion, and was a national bad joke.

So Labour plans to nationalise the telecoms sector at a cost of £100 billion to the taxpayer, fund the NHS with an extra £26 billion, flood defences by an extra £6 billion, set up a ‘social transformation fund’ at a cost of £30 billion, set up a ‘green transformation fund’ at a taxpayers cost of £50 billion.  Plus spending almost £200 billion nationalising water, the Royal Mail, rail companies and energy networks.  Not to mention free tuition fees for all, free electric cars, free childcare, free parking and a four day week.

Shadow chancellor, John McDonnell says in his Who’s Who entry that his hobby is “fermenting the overthrow of capitalism”. Sounds like he’s got a plan.



  1. Ronnie Reply

    It Warbs will day that right?! He does nothing during his time as mp for getting Somerset connected to fibre broadband. I’m looking forward for 13/dec where we will see a Libdem mp return to this area and the end to torrie austerity which hit millions across the area including old and young voters. Time for David Warbs to return to work he enjoys in the private sector and stop wasting my taxes for only taking care of his rich torrie mates. Enough.

  2. Andy Howe Reply

    Enough of the agenda! Telecoms sector successful for who? A bland statement that needs evaluation. So stop peddling those attitudes and tell us, instead, how the service we (the British public) receive from the “successful” telecoms provider compares with that received in other (comparable!) countries in terms of coverage, accessibility and cost. Then consider not only the cost of the Labour scheme but the potential cost of not radically overhauling broadband provision nationwide. Imagine the social, business and environmental benefit of low cost universal broadband.

    I’m not backing the Labour approach but I am also in despair at the penny pinching lack of vision and sneery rubbishing of proposed alternatives by those who offer nothing else.

    Sure, some people made a little money from the original BT flotation, but some other interests made a vast amount more. That, ultimately, was the reason.


    David that really isn’t good enough. The current offering is little short of disastrous. Open Reach have been telling me that I will be getting Superfast Broadband “in the next six months” for the last four years. I’m only 800m from Langport and yet the best I can get (on a non rainy day) is 5Mb. If you look on their coverage maps it suggests that we are covered. We are not. The service here, in your constituency, is appalling and you are doing nothing about it but writing flannel in favour of a lethargic status quo. It is time for a change rather than an MP who protects those who do nothing. It’s time for Labour.

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