Boris Johnson to cancel weekend press briefings ‘due to low ratings’

PUBLISHED: 14:04 02 June 2020 | UPDATED: 14:24 02 June 2020

Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance,  Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty during a media briefing in Downing Street. Photograph: Pippa Fowles/10 Downing Street/Crown Copyright/PA Wire

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Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance, Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty during a media briefing in Downing Street. Photograph: Pippa Fowles/10 Downing Street/Crown Copyright/PA Wire .

The daily Downing Street press conferences will no longer take place at weekends, Number 10 has said.

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Boris Johnson, who has appeared at 12 press conferences so far, will lead at least one briefing a week from now on, alongside scientific and medical experts.

The prime minister’s official spokesman told a Westminster briefing: “From this week, the press conferences will be on weekdays only, so no longer on Saturdays and Sundays.

“The PM will take a press conference every week alongside... the scientific and medical experts.

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“Others will be led by secretaries of state, alongside scientific and medical experts where relevant.”

Asked why the change was being made, the spokesman said: “It is just a fact that the numbers who are viewing at weekends do tend to be significantly lower.”

Number 10 insisted the government was “absolutely committed to keeping people updated”.

The concern about television ratings reflects US president Donald Trump’s attitude to briefings, but in April he boasted that his White House news conference ratings are “through the roof”.

He has since stopped holding the briefings after saying they were “not worth” the time and effort.

Health secretary Matt Hancock has led the most Downing Street press conferences so far, totalling 17 as of Tuesday, while foreign secretary Dominic Raab has taken 11.

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