BORIS Johnson has refused to fund over-75s’ TV licences as he begins a Brexit bromance with Donald Trump.
Flying to his first meeting with the US leader since becoming Prime Minister, he said the BBC must “cough up” – despite finding billions to plan for the chaos of a likely no-deal.
Shadow Culture Secretary Tom Watson said: “His disregard for older people is appalling. He is trying to blame the BBC for his own Government’s policy, but this obfuscation will not work.
“This Government must stop passing the buck and step in to fund the free TV licences today.”
But Johnson tried to shirk responsibility as he flew to the G7 summit in Biarritz. He said: “The BBC received a settlement conditional upon their paying for TV licences for the over-75s. They should cough up.”
Bectu broadcasting union chief Philippa Childs said: “I’m sure millions of over-75s set to lose the benefit won’t forgive him for this betrayal.”
The Tories vowed in 2017 to keep TV licences free for over-75s, but in a deal stitched up two years earlier they had made the BBC responsible for funding it from 2020.
Yet Johnson has managed to find £2billion for no-deal plans on top of £4billion already promised and billions in tax cut vows.
The Beeb estimates it would cost £745million a year to fund the licences and would lead to the loss of many of its services.
From next June, only those on Pension Credits will be eligible – just one in five. It means 3.7 million pensioners, including over 900,000 veterans, will have to find £154.50.
The Mirror’s campaign to save free licences is backed by politicians, celebrities and readers, and 634,334 signed Age UK’s Switched Off petition to Downing Street.
But a No10 source said: “The BBC must honour this agreement.”