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Five years after abandoning Labour’s universal service commitment and having delayed his own super-slow crawl-out at least three times without proper consultation with either Ofcom or the industry, the Prime Minister magics a universal service obligation out of thin air. The Minister for Culture and the Digital Economy, with whom I have the deepest sympathy, is forced to pretend that it is part of some strategy that has not been published or even consulted on. The Chancellor, however, is not in on the trick: the comprehensive spending review does not mention the issue once. Does the Minister have any idea of how much the obligation is going to cost—or it just a sop to his Back Benchers whose mailbags are bulging with complaints about broadband?