Boris Johnson has scrapped plans for White Home-style televised media briefings after spending £2.6m of taxpayers’ cash on a state-of-the-art studio in Downing Road.
The transfer sparked Labour accusations that the prime minister was “operating frightened of scrutiny” within the wake of a rash of unfavorable headlines over “Tory sleaze and dodgy lobbying”.
The briefings had been the brainchild of the prime minister’s former adviser Dominic Cummings as technique of getting across the Westminster foyer of political correspondents, and former journalist Allegra Stratton was employed to be the TV face of No 10.
However she is now transferring from the position of PM’s press secretary to turn out to be Mr Johnson’s spokesperson for November’s Cop26 local weather summit in Glasgow, which will likely be chaired by cupboard minister Alok Sharma.
It’s understood that the flag-draped studio in 9 Downing Road will now be used for advert hoc press conferences by the prime minister, ministers and authorities officers.
It made its first look on TV screens final month because the venue for normal coronavirus press conferences, which had beforehand been held in No 10.
Its plain blue backdrop proved a godsend for pranksters who had been in a position simply to photoshop inappropriate scenes into the house behind the PM’s lectern.
When former Newsnight political editor Ms Stratton was recruited in October, it was anticipated that she would take questions from the press every day, along with her televised press convention changing one of many twice-daily foyer briefings historically held by the prime minister’s official spokesperson.
The event was regarded with suspicion by political reporters, who feared shedding the chance to topic the spokespeople to sustained grillings away from the cameras.
However the launch of the briefings was repeatedly delayed, and Downing Road’s urge for food for White Home-style press conferences appeared to evaporate after Mr Cummings’s resignation in November.
Labour’s deputy chief, Angela Rayner, mentioned: “Boris Johnson is clearly operating frightened of scrutiny and questions on Tory sleaze and dodgy lobbying.
“As an alternative of losing hundreds of thousands of kilos of taxpayers’ cash on a pointless self-importance undertaking, the prime minister ought to have used the cash to present our NHS heroes a pay rise.”
Ms Stratton mentioned: “I’m delighted to be beginning this new position. The Cop26 local weather convention is a novel alternative to ship a cleaner, greener world and I’m trying ahead to working with the prime minister and Alok Sharma to make sure it’s a success.”