White House-style daily press briefings from Downing Street will be televised, Boris Johnson confirmed today.
The Prime Minister said the afternoon “lobby” sessions with Westminster journalists would build on the popularity of the coronavirus briefings from No10 – and he would take some himself.
He told LBC Radio: “People have liked a more direct, detailed information from the Government about what is going on, and I think that they’ve actually particularly liked our brilliant scientific and medical advisers, possibly more than the politicians, to be frank.
“We do think that people want direct engagement and want stuff from us, and so we’re going to have a go at that.”
Mr Johnson said he would “pop up from time to time, I have no doubt”, although the reported plans are for an experienced broadcaster to lead to briefings.
Westminster reporters usually hold twice-daily briefings with the Prime Minister’s official spokesman.
But, unlike in the US, they have never been televised.
The President’s spokesman or woman often becomes a media and political personality in their own right, as they beamed into the nation’s living rooms every day.
The Prime Minister’s spokesman said the briefings would not be televised until at least the autumn, and that “nobody has been recruited yet” to front them.
He said: “The morning lobby briefing will continue as is – taken by myself as a civil servant.
“The new televised afternoon briefing person who takes that will be a political appointment.
“Obviously what that will allow them to do is answer political questions in a way that I’m not.”
The spokesman said the daily coronavirus press conferences showed “there is a significant public appetite for information about what the Government is doing and why, and we feel that daily on-camera press briefings will help to increase Government accountability and transparency”.