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Amid all the debate over Michael Gove’s Levelling Up White Paper, pundits appear to have missed his most intriguing comment of all. And it’s right there for all to see in the first line of the executive summary of the epic 322-page monster document.

Here it is: “The United Kingdom is an unparalleled success story – a multi-cultural, multi-national, multi-ethnic state with the world’s best broadcaster.”

Gove doesn’t give the world’s best broadcaster a name but he means of course the BBC, the very same best broadcaster which his government wants to reform and eventually abolish the licence fee. In the past even Gove has been a BBC critic, calling for the non-payment of the television license fee to be treated as civil cases instead of crimes. 

Boris Johnson has thrown his weight behind abolishing the license fee altogether, in part to appease backbench MPs. Only last month Nadine Dories – the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Secretary – revealed that the £159-per-year payment will be frozen for two years, forcing the corporation to explore alternative funding models without running on a shoestring budget.

But the dramatic departure of Number 10’s policy chief Munira Mirza – who reportedly had a leading role in the attempted change of the BBC culture – may well have put minster’s plans into disarray. So what was Gove playing at with his praise for the BBC ? Gove is far too clever a man to make a throw away line like that with some motive.