White House-style press briefings scrapped

Lawrence Kim
April 21, 2021

(Alliance News) - Downing Street has scrapped plans for White House-style press conferences despite more than GBP2.6 million having already been spent on the venue.

The government was criticised for spending more than £2.6 million ($3.6m) on a revamp of No 9 Downing Street so that Mr Johnson's spokeswoman, Allegra Stratton, could field questions on camera.

Allegra Stratton, who was appointed as the prime minister's press secretary previous year to be the face of new briefings, will instead become the prime minister's spokeswoman for the COP26 climate change conference in November, a Downing Street official confirmed on Tuesday night.

Mr Johnson used the room to host a Covid press conference earlier on Tuesday.

Since her appointment past year, Ms Stratton has been assisting with the daily press briefings given to lobby journalists, which are not televised.

Former journalist Allegra Stratton had been selected to become the government's press secretary to lead the televised briefings.

Johnson told LBC previous year that the White House-style televised press briefings would offer the public an opportunity to receive "more direct, detailed information from the Government about what is going on".

However the latest move will now leave an uncertain future for the wood-panelled briefing room, which was renovated by the Russian firm Megahertz.

In a nod to the White House, a podium was placed at the head of the room complete with an official Downing Street lectern in front of four Union Jack flags. "Questions need to be asked, the company does big installations for a number of organisations - but this is government", a source was cited by ITV News as saying.

The images came as a Freedom of Information request showed the Cabinet Office renovations totalled £2,607,767.67, largely excluding Value-Added Tax.

When ITV News exclusively revealed photographs of the plush White House-style briefing room in March 2021, it unleashed a torrent of criticism, particularly after the cost of the refurbishing was revealed in a Freedom of Information request.

"Instead of wasting millions of pounds of taxpayers' money on a pointless vanity project the prime minister should have used the money to give our NHS heroes a pay rise".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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