Govt abandons White Area-style TV briefings – after £2.6m spend on new studio

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It was once an concept that was once ridiculed from the beginning. And now Downing Side road has showed that plans for White Area-style information meetings were ditched.

Quantity 10 press secretary Allegra Stratton, the previous Mother or father and TV journalist employed to entrance the on-camera briefings, is to as a substitute grow to be spokeswoman for the COP-26 local weather alternate summit.

And the brand new custom-built media suite given a £2.6m makeover for Ms Stratton’s briefings will now be used for information meetings by way of the top minister and different senior ministers.

Opposition MPs have already stepped up their claims that the pricy refurbishment of the room, in nine Downing Side road, was once a waste of taxpayers’ cash on a conceit mission by way of Boris Johnson.

Allegra Stratton, the face of Downing Street's new daily televised press briefings, enters 10 Downing Street, London, the day after Lee Cain announced he is resigning as Downing Street's director of communications and will leave the post at the end of the year.
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Former journalist Allegra Stratton were employed to entrance the briefings – however will now center of attention at the COP-26 summit

Labour’s deputy chief Angela Rayner mentioned: “Boris Johnson is obviously working 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 needless vainness mission the top minister must have used the cash to present our NHS heroes a pay upward push.”

And veteran Labour ex-minister John Spellar tweeted of Ms Stratton: “She did not remaining lengthy, then. Descending into an actual Whitehall farce.”

Saying the U-turn and her new process, Ms Stratton – who’s paid £125,000 according to yr – mentioned in a observation issued by way of Quantity 10: “I’m thrilled to be beginning on this new position.

“The COP-26 local weather convention is a novel alternative to ship a cleaner, greener global and I am taking a look ahead to running with the top minister and Alok Sharma to make sure this is a good fortune.”

When the brand new publish of press secretary was once marketed remaining July, to a few it will have to have sounded just like the process alternative of a life-time, however to others it was once at all times more likely to be a poisoned chalice.

The memoirs of Sir Bernard Ingham, Margaret Thatcher’s mythical press spokesman, had been known as “Kill The Messenger” and that destiny undoubtedly awaited Ms Stratton had the briefings long gone forward.

Instantly once they had been proposed, the White Area-style information meetings had been denounced now not simplest by way of Sir Bernard, but additionally by way of Area of Commons’ Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle.

“Statements must be made to the Area first,” mentioned Sir Lindsay. “As soon as you may have made that observation, by way of all method cross and feature a press convention. However do it after, now not earlier than.”

Sir Bernard blamed “the malevolent presence of Dominic Cummings”, the PM’s “weirdo” adviser, and mentioned the brand new publish of Downing Side road TV spokesperson was once “a constitutional outrage”.

WATFORD, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 04: Downing Street former special advisor Dominic Cummings (L) and Director of Communications Lee Cain (R) attend British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's press conference at the NATO summit at the Grove hotel on December 4, 2019 in Watford, England. France and the UK signed the Treaty of Dunkirk in 1947 in the aftermath of WW2 cementing a mutual alliance in the event of an attack by Germany or the Soviet Union. The Benelux countries joined the Treaty and in April 1949 expanded further to include North America and Canada followed by Portugal, Italy, Norway, Denmark and Iceland. This new military alliance became the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO). The organisation grew with Greece and Turkey becoming members and a re-armed West Germany was permitted in 1955. This encouraged the creation of the Soviet-led Warsaw Pact delineating the two sides of the Cold War. This year marks the 70th anniversary of NATO. (Photo by Adrian Dennis - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
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The White Area-style briefings had been subsidized by way of Dominic Cummings’ best friend Lee Cain (proper) earlier than the pair left Quantity 10

The speculation stemmed from the day-to-day coronavirus information meetings which made family names out of Professor Chris Whitty, Sir Patrick Vallance and Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, which attracted giant TV audiences and had been judged a good fortune by way of Downing Side road.

However there was once additionally a much broader Downing Side road time table. Mr Cummings sought after to break the so-called “Foyer device” favoured by way of Sir Bernard and grab keep an eye on of the day-to-day briefings for political newshounds.

The on-camera briefings had been additionally enthusiastically subsidized by way of the previous Downing Side road director of communications, Lee Cain, who up to now dressed up because the “Reflect hen” throughout the 2010 election marketing campaign and taunted ex-Tory chief David Cameron.

However Mr Cummings and Mr Cain had been each ousted remaining November in a Downing Side road coup mentioned to were masterminded by way of Mr Johnson’s fiancée Carrie Symonds, a former Conservative Celebration media leader and Whitehall particular adviser.

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It’s claimed Ms Symonds persuaded the top minister to rent Ms Stratton for the brand new position and the 2 girls had been mentioned to have shaped an impressive alliance that ended in the dying of Mr Cummings and Mr Cain.

Mr Cain was once changed as director of communications by way of James Slack, a former Day by day Mail political editor, who were the top minister’s reputable spokesman for each Theresa Might and Mr Johnson.

He’s understood to were cool at the thought of on-camera White Area-style briefings, which is regarded as one reason he surrender Quantity 10 to grow to be deputy editor of the Solar previous this yr.

Mr Slack’s successor, some other former Day by day Mail political journalist, Jack Doyle, was once simplest appointed remaining Friday and the axing of the briefings – doomed from the beginning, in line with many – got here simplest days after his appointment.

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