Allegra Stratton is to become Boris Johnson’s new spokeswoman for the Downing Street press briefings - who is she?

Friday, 9th October 2020, 1:54 pm
Updated Friday, 9th October 2020, 2:28 pm
Stratton will become the spokeswoman for the Prime Minister (Photo: ITV/YouTube)
Stratton will become the spokeswoman for the Prime Minister (Photo: ITV/YouTube)

Broadcast journalist Allegra Stratton is to become the new face of Downing Street’s daily televised press briefings.

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Stratton is currently a communications advisor to Chancellor Rishi Sunak, but has been poached to become the spokeswoman for the Prime Minister instead.

Boris Johnson has been seeking an adviser to give on-the-record, White House-style briefings to the press, which will take place on camera.

Who is Allegra Stratton?

Stratton is a British journalist and writer, with a rich history in broadcast journalism, and is credited with working at some of the nation’s biggest newsbrands in her career.

Having graduated from Cambridge University, she started her media career as a producer for the BBC before moving into print journalism and working as a political correspondent at The Guardian.

In 2011, she married James Forsyth, the political editor of The Spectator, the conservative magazine which Mr Johnson used to edit.

She returned to the BBC in 2012 working as political editor of BBC Newsnight and later went on to become national editor of ITV news, making her first appearance on ITV’s News at Ten in January 2016.

The 39-year-old also co-presented Peston on Sunday with Robert Peston for four years up to 2018.

In April last year, she left ITV news to become the director of strategic communications for the Chancellor at the Treasury.

She will now become the new press secretary for 10 Downing Street, working as Boris Johnson’s official spokeswoman at the televised daily press briefings.

Why was she selected?

In July, Downing Street began searching for someone to fulfil the role of communicating with the nation on behalf of the Prime Minister.

Stratton was quickly named as a favourite to become the face of No 10 in the press briefings when plans for the role first emerged.

The Prime Minister was said to have been “impressed” with her abilities while working at the Treasury.

The job advert said the salary would be “based on experience”, but there have been suggestions the taxpayer-funded role could pay £100,000 a year.

What will her job involve?

As opposed to an impartial civil servant, the politically-appointed special adviser will instead be able to take aim at opposition parties, provide political advice to ministers and defend the government’s decisions.

The political reporters based in Parliament, known as the lobby, currently have twice daily briefings with the Prime Minister’s official spokesman, or his deputy, but both are civil servants.

These briefings take place on the record, allowing journalists to quote them, but they are not broadcast on TV.

However, unlike other influential figures in Downing Street, including Mr Johnson’s chief aide Dominic Cummings and communications director Lee Cain, Stratton will operate in the public eye.

Downing Street is yet to comment, but a government source has said she will face the cameras at 9 Downing Street during afternoon sessions for televised press conferences, in a politically-appointed role as a special adviser.

In response to the move from No 10, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer plans to give monthly press conferences, and has warned that the daily briefings from a political appointee risk “unbalancing the political discourse”.

A version of this article originally appeared on our sister site, Yorkshire Evening Post.