Boris Johnson plans to mimic Donald Trump by broadcasting team’s press briefings with journalists
PUBLISHED: 12:54 03 July 2020 | UPDATED: 13:03 03 July 2020
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Boris Johnson has revealed plans to copy the White House communications strategy by televising daily press briefings in a major shake-up of the government’s approach to media.
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Under the new arrangements, an afternoon session will be broadcast from Number 9 Downing Street as part of plans to increase transparency with the public.
Confirming the changes during an interview with LBC Radio, Johnson suggested the move was in response to positive feedback from the now-shelved daily coronavirus press briefings by ministers.
“People have liked a more direct, detailed information from the government about what is going on - and I think that they’ve [the public] actually particularly liked our brilliant scientific and medical advisers, possibly more than the politicians to be frank,” he said.
“We do think that people want direct engagement and want stuff from us, and so we’re going to have a go at that.”
But much like Trump, Johnson will not appear at every event - explaining he will “pop up from time to time” at the briefings.
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As it currently stands, lobby correspondents - the political reporters based in the Houses of Parliament - currently have twice daily briefings with the prime minister’s spokesman or deputy, who are both civil servants.
The briefings are on the record, meaning they can be quoted and attributed to Number 10, but are not broadcast.
Downing Street’s new media strategy - set to take effect in October - will see later meeting beamed onto television screens, while the morning briefing will continue to be held behind closed doors.
An experienced broadcaster is reportedly being sought to lead the White House-style briefings on behalf of the Government.
The plan was devised by Number 10’s director of communications, Lee Cain, who was head of broadcasting for Vote Leave and a comms director for Johnson’s leadership media campaign in July 2019.
Cain, a former journalist and PR worker, most famously refused to let The Mirror and Independent journalists into a February press conference.
As part of the overhaul, Downing Street will also cut the number of press officers across Whitehall. Proposals reported by POLITICO say plans are to limited the number of communication staff to 30 per department, significantly slashing the discipline’s 4,000-strong workforce.
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