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Brexit to better bumpkin broadband, 4G coverage for farmers – Gove

Better mobile coverage in Kenya than parts of Kent

UK Environment Secretary Michael Gove has promised to use the cash Blighty no longer has to give to the EU to subsidise rural connectivity.

In a speech heavy on rhetoric but light on detail, Gove told delegates at the National Farmer's Union the government would spend billions of pounds improving rural broadband and 4G mobile phone coverage after Brexit.

He said: "Universal broadband and 4G coverage for all – paid for by the money we no longer have to give to the EU – that is what we mean by taking back control."

Gove claimed it was "ridiculous that you can get better mobile phone coverage in Kenya than in parts of Kent.

"It is unjustifiable that in the country that first guaranteed universal mail provision, invented the telephone and television and pioneered the World Wide Web that broadband provision is so patchy and poor in so many areas."

He also blamed the EU's rules on state aid having "prevented us from investing in broadband in a way that is best for the UK.

"Outside the EU, just one-fifth of our annual net contribution to the EU could transform our national infrastructure."

According to Ofcom, one million folk cannot get speeds of 10Mbps, with the government planning to introduce a universal service obligation by 2020.

Gove also pooh-poohed the argument against subsidising those who choose to live in rural areas, where broadband provision and mobile phone coverage may cost more than urban areas.

"[W]here do the urban dwellers get their food from, who keeps the countryside beautiful for them, who protects the landscape, keeps our nation’s green lungs breathing, who maintains the health, beauty and balance of nature for future generations?

"The people in rural areas who are currently being deprived an important service so many take for granted and need it now." ®

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