The Ex-ITV Journalist Allegra Stratton Will Front Televised Downing Street Briefings As Boris Johnson's New Spokesperson
Allegra Stratton co-presented Peston on Sunday before leaving ITV News to work for Rishi Sunak (ITV/YouTube)
The former ITV journalist Allegra Stratton is set to be appointed Boris Johnson’s new press secretary and front the government's White House-style televised press briefings.
The 39-year-old left the media to become the Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s director of strategic communications earlier this year, and was the hot favourite to take on the high-profile role.
A government source confirmed the move to broadcasters but Downing Street is yet to officially comment.
Number 10 began a search for someone to answer daily questions on the Prime Minister’s behalf back in July.
It is believed they wanted to capitalise on the interest generated by the daily coronavirus briefings and speak directly to the public and bypass journalists.
Currently the briefings for lobby reporters in Westminster with the PM’s official spokesman, who is a neutral civil servant, take place behind closed doors.
This new role is a political one selected by the Conservatives, allowing them more latitude to criticise the opposition and give answers based on party lines.
The published job specification said whoever takes the position will “communicate with the nation on behalf of the Prime Minister”, become “a trusted political adviser” and “a member of the senior team at Downing Street”.
The salary on offer is believed to be around £100,000, but the official advert only says it is “to be determined based on experience”.
It was reported that an experienced broadcaster was wanted for the role, with Mr Johnson said to have suggested BBC London’s Riz Lateef, and Sky News’ Sophy Ridge was also linked with it.
But Ms Stratton, who is married to the Spectator magazine’s political editor James Forsyth, was always seen as the most likely choice having already made the leap from journalism to government communications.
Starting her career at the BBC, she then worked for the Times, the Independent and the New Statesman before becoming a political correspondent at the Guardian.
She also wrote the book Muhajababes in 2006, about the next generation of young people in the Middle East, then moved back to the BBC in 2012 as Newsnight’s political editor, then on to ITV News as national editor in 2015, and was a co-presenter of Peston on Sunday.
In April she left to join the newly-appointed Chancellor, and has been credited with helping craft Mr Sunak’s image as he won plaudits for his response to the coronavirus crisis.