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Boris Johnson to introduce White House-style daily televised media briefings saying 'people want direct engagement'

The Government is already on the hunt for a broadcaster to chair the daily sessions.

2 min read

Boris Johnson is planning to introduce daily televised press briefings as part of a major overhaul of the Government’s communications set-up.

The Prime Minister confirmed reports he wants to replace off-camera afternoon briefings with a broadcast session in a bid to “introduce a culture of transparency and openness”.

Speaking on LBC he said "people want direct engagement with Government", and cited the popularity of the daily Covid-19 press conferences as a reason for making the move.

Number 10 is also looking to slim down departmental communications teams and centralise the Government’s PR operation in the Cabinet Office.

Departments will reportedly be forced to cut down their communications teams to a maximum of thirty, with four senior officials appointed to oversee communications across Whitehall.

The shift to televised grillings will represent a major break from the traditional lobby briefings, which give Westminster journalists two opportunities a day to questions the Prime Minister’s spokesperson — a senior civil servant — behind closed doors.

Number 10 is now looking to emulate the United States by screening the afternoon briefing, with a room in Number 9 Downing Street converted into a special briefing room. 

The Government is already on the hunt for a broadcaster to chair the daily sessions.

Asked if he would chair them himself, the PM said: “I will pop up from time to time I have no doubt, but I don't think that's the plan.”

He told presenter Nick Ferrari: “I think the people have liked more direct detailed information from the government about what's going on. 

“And I think that they've actually particularly liked our brilliant scientific and medical advisors, possibly more than the politicians to be frank.

“But we do think that people want direct engagement and want stuff from us, and. And so we're gonna we're gonna have go at that.”

The move comes after Number 10 brought an end to the daily Downing Street press conferences which have run throughout the coronavirus crisis.

Instead of a televised session every day, the Government is currently running ad-hoc conferences, with Mr Johnson set to provide an update on the easing of lockdown on Friday. 

Lobby journalists are still able to question the Prime Minister’s spokesperson remotely in a daily session that can continue for more than an hour.

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