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Government drops plans for White House style press briefings

Allegra Stratton, Boris Johnson's former press secretary - Credit: PA

The government has dropped proposals to hold White House style press briefings at Number 10 – on the day the first was set to be held.

The briefings were intended to replicate the regular events held by Donald Trump’s team in America, with Allegra Stratton – a former journalist – hired to front the weekly evening television broadcasts ahead of teatime news bulleting.

Her post had been advertised with a £100,000 a year salary, with the Sunday Times reporting the Downing Street media suite created to hold the events already costing £2 million.

The Daily Mail reports the briefings have now been suspended until after the pandemic, with some Tory MPs doubting whether they will happen at all.

“There was a view that it would seem we were trying to glamorise or put a showbiz spin on a very serious story, which is Covid,” claimed a government source.

“We are looking closely at the best communication for the period we now find ourselves in,” Stratton told journalists. “We have a new strain of coronavirus that’s 50% more infectious; the prime minister’s taken the steps he’s taken in the last few days, and we are considering the best way to support this and to get across public health messaging.”