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Thu, 13 August 2020

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Tories kick off search for Boris Johnson spokesperson to lead White House-style Number 10 TV briefings

Tories kick off search for Boris Johnson spokesperson to lead White House-style Number 10 TV briefings

The advert for the new spokesperson to lead the Downing Street briefings has gone live (PA)

3 min read

The Conservatives have kicked off their search for Boris Johnson’s new spokesperson as they get ready to launch US-style televised Number 10 briefings.

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”, according to an advert posted on the Tory party's website.

It says the spokesperson “will represent the government and the Prime Minister to an audience of millions on a daily basis, across the main broadcast channels and social media, and have the chance to influence and shape public opinion”.

Currently political journalists are given two on-the-record daily briefings by the Prime Minister’s official spokesperson James Slack.

But these sessions take place behind closed doors, and Mr Johnson’s administration plan to broadcast the afternoon version in the wake of the popular televised coronavirus press conferences that took place during lockdown.

The briefings will be led by a new spokesperson, who unlike Mr Slack will act as a political appointment and not a civil servant.

That means they will be able to attack Labour and other opposition parties as well as set out the Government's position.

The role mirrors that of the position of press secretary to the US president, who fronts regular White House press briefings.

The winning candidate will soon become one of the most recognisable faces in British politics and the face and voice of the Government.

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 says to applicants: “You will speak directly to the public on the issues they care most about, explaining the government’s position, reassuring people that we are taking action on their priorities and driving positive changes.”

The responsibilities will include regularly giving "on-the-record televised briefings to the media” and providing "trusted media advice to the Prime Minister and his wider political team”, the ad says.

On who should apply for the top comms role, the job spec says: “The demands of the post are high and it will appeal to an experienced and confident media operator who would enjoy working on camera and with senior ministers, political advisers, officials and journalists."

The post says the winning applicant "would relish the challenge and pace of televised briefings" and have "a strong grasp of foreign and domestic policy issues".

Essential skills listed include “first rate news judgement under pressure”, the ability to “understand and communicate complex issues clearly and concisely to the public”, and a “strong grasp of the wider media and political context in which the government operates”.

Number 10 are also looking for someone with “excellent risk management and crisis communications skills”, proven experience as a senior spokesperson or senior journalist “with the ability to remain calm and measured under pressure”.

Applicants need to send a CV and “statement of suitability of no more than 500 words” to Downing Street’s director of communications Lee Cain by 21 August.

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