Boris Johnson to avoid journalists over lockdown announcement to take pre-recorded questions from public

PUBLISHED: 11:00 11 May 2020 | UPDATED: 11:19 11 May 2020

Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during a press conference, at 10 Downing Street on the government's coronavirus action plan. Photograph: Frank Augstein/PA.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during a press conference, at 10 Downing Street on the government's coronavirus action plan. Photograph: Frank Augstein/PA.

PA Wire/PA Images

Boris Johnson is to avoid questions from journalists over his announcement surrounding the easing of the coronavirus lockdown, instead opting to take pre-recorded questions from the public.

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The government has been accused of “mixed messages” after Johnson addressed the nation on Sunday evening to offer his “first sketch of a road map” for restarting the economy and social lives in England.

In a broadcast from Downing Street, the PM said a phased reopening of schools and non-essential shops in England could potentially begin from June 1 if transmission can be reduced.

And he said people who cannot work from home should be “actively encouraged” to return to their jobs from Monday, and he granted unlimited exercise in England from Wednesday.

He relaxed his “stay home” slogan to instead tell people to “stay alert”, but had not consulted the leaders of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland - and they refused to adopt the new message.


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The government is set to publish a 50-page document in parliament on Monday to fill in the gaps from his announcement, and Johnson shortly after will face MPs while giving a statement in the House of Commons.

It will be his first statement to politicians on Covid-19.

Shortly after he wil answer questions in front of the cameras at a Downing Street briefing.

But rather than take them from journalists on Monday afternoon the prime minister will opt for questions from the public.

Taking to social media, he wrote on Twitter: “Do you want to ask me a question tomorrow? If so, you can submit yours here: https://gov.uk/ask”.

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The website he links to reads: “Submit a question for the daily coronavirus (COVID-19) press conference. If your question is chosen, a cabinet minister will answer it during the live broadcast.”

Such questions are typically selected and recorded in advance, but Downing Street has insisted that ministers are not involved in choosing what is asked, or will be told what they will be.

It means Johnson will avoid further scrutiny from journalists, having refused to give a press conference or media interview for 11 days, and having held just one press conference since March 25th.

Last month Downing Street was accused of barring the newspaper behind the most prominent criticisms of the government’s approach to coronavirus from asking questions during daily press briefings.

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