United Kingdom

Boris Johnson 'AXES plans for TV briefings despite spending £2.6m on converting a room

Boris Johnson has axed plans for White House-style televised press briefings despite spending £2.6million of taxpayer money on the briefing room.

The Prime Minister had confirmed the proposals for an upgraded Downing Street briefing room last year, suggesting the public had liked having more direct information from ministers during the coronavirus press conferences.

However the plans have since been scrapped and the briefing room, which was installed with microphones, control desks, cameras and computers, will instead be used by the PM, ministers and officials. 

The U-turn comes after it was revealed that Prime Minster's press secretary and former ITV presenter Allegra Stratton, would be leading the televised briefings.

Boris Johnson has axed plans for a White House-style televised press briefings despite investing £2.6million 

Ms Stratton has quit ITV News to join Mr Sunak's increasingly powerful Treasury operation at the end of last year.

The Cambridge University graduate, who is married to James Forsyth, the political editor of The Spectator, had been the favourite since No 10 said that it would be introducing the afternoon TV briefings as part of a bid to communicate more directly with voters. 

Mr Johnson has also declared himself to be 'impressed' by Ms Stratton, and recently invited her to join him at Chequers. 

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

Last year the Mr Johnson said the White House-style televised press briefings would allow the nation to have a 'more direct, detailed information from the Government about what is going on.

Mr Johnson said the White House-style televised press briefings would allow the nation to have a 'more direct, detailed information from the Government about what is going on 

former ITV presenter Allegra Stratton, would be leading the televised briefings

He said: 'People have liked a more direct, detailed information from the Government about what is going on - and I think that they've actually particularly liked our brilliant scientific and medical advisers, possibly more than the politicians to be frank.

'We do think that people want direct engagement and want stuff from us, and so we're going to have a go at that.'

Photos also revealed the result of the work including a plush new studio and seating for reporters. 

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.

Megahertz was hired to install microphones, control desks, cameras and computers and is owned by Okno-TV, a Moscow-based company that works closely with state controlled broadcaster Russia Today. 

Televised press briefings have long been in existence in the US, allowing journalists to grill the president of the day's press secretary. 

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