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Tue, 11 August 2020

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Keir Starmer hits out at 'political move' to televise Downing Street press briefings

Keir Starmer hits out at 'political move' to televise Downing Street press briefings

Keir Starmer has hit out at the plans to televise Downing Street press briefings (PA)

2 min read

Keir Starmer has branded plans to start televising the Downing Street press briefings as an "obviously political move".

The Labour leader has slammed Boris Johnson's plans to introduce daily televised press briefings later this year, saying the move risked "unbalancing the political discourse".

Downing Street announced last week that the White House-style briefings would be led by a political appointee rather than a civil servant, with recruitment for the role expected to begin later this month.

Mr Johnson said the plans had been drawn up in the wake of the daily Downing Street coronavirus briefings, saying the televised sessions would improve "accountability and transparency".

But in an interview with the Evening Standard, Sir Keir said his party were looking at whether his party should be given a right-to-reply to the political briefings.

"It's obviously a political move. Nobody can quarrel with greater transparency but this is political and one of the greatest things in our democracy is balance and hearing both sides," he said.

"We are exploring, and keen to explore, just how the political balance is maintained if you move to this style of briefing. That’s the risk of it, that it unbalances the political discourse."

He added: "Our democracy thrives on balance and in particular the opposition being able to hold the Government to account. So that needs to be addressed."

The plans, expected to come into force in October, come amid a wider shake-up of Whitehall communications which will see a significant reduction in the number of press officers working across Government departments.


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