Front-woman or fall guy? Ex-TV presenter Allegra Stratton will front No10’s new White House-style press conferences
- Downing Street said to have appointed Allegra Stratton as its new TV spokesman
- Ex-journalist Ms Stratton will host White House-style daily TV press briefings
- Ms Stratton joined the Government in April this year to work for Rishi Sunak
Former journalist Allegra Stratton has reportedly been hired as the host of the Government’s daily TV press briefings
Downing Street has appointed former journalist Allegra Stratton to host its new White House-style daily televised press briefings, it was claimed today.
Ms Stratton is currently Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s top adviser having only joined the Government earlier this year.
But the BBC reported she will now make the move to Number 10, with the press conferences expected to start later this month, as she becomes Boris Johnson’s first line of defence.
Downing Street has not commented on the appointment of Ms Stratton to the new role.
The move would put the political magazine The Spectator, which Boris Johnson used to edit, even further at the heart of the Government.
Ms Stratton is the wife of the magazine’s current political editor James Forsyth, while Dominic Cummings’s wife is Mary Wakefield, the commissioning editor.
Ms Stratton has long been considered the frontrunner for the position after reports at the start of September that she was Boris Johnson’s preferred choice.
The Prime Minister was said to have been ‘impressed’ with the former BBC and ITV News journalist since she joined the Chancellor’s team as his director of communications in April.
There were thought to have been about half a dozen candidates in the frame for the role which is expected to come with a salary of more than £100,000.
A process of interviews and screen tests has been carried out in recent months with the field said to have been whittled down to two.
Ms Stratton previously worked on ITV’s Peston on Sunday programme before joining the Government earlier this year. She is pictured with Boris Johnson in December 2016
Ms Stratton joined the Government in April as Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s director of communications
Allegra Stratton: A former ITV and BBC news presenter who quit journalism to spin for Rishi Sunak
Allegra Stratton is a former ITV journalist who has been Rishi Sunak’s director of strategic communications at the Treasury since April this year.
The 39-year-old mother-of-two quit ITV News to enter politics after co-presenting Peston on Sunday with Robert Peston.
She also served as ITV News’ national editor, making her first appearance on the broadcaster’s News at Ten programme in January 2016.
Before that she worked at the BBC between 2012-2015 as political editor of Newsnight, replacing Michael Crick who left to become a correspondent for Channel 4.
Previously she was the Guardian’s political correspondent and presented the newspaper’s Politics Weekly podcast with Tom Clark.
Ms Stratton has also worked as a producer for the BBC, on the foreign desk at The Times and wrote for the Independent and the New Statesman.
Before embarking on her journalism career, Ms Stratton attended Cambridge University.
She is married to James Forsyth who is the political editor of The Spectator magazine.
Mr Johnson was then reportedly asked to choose who he wanted to become the face and voice of the Government.
Downing Street refused to comment on candidates during the search, simply insisting that it would be a ‘full and proper process’.
However, one senior minister told Politico last month that Ms Stratton is ‘brilliant’ and ‘there is no contest and no one else who could do it better’.
Ms Stratton left her role as co-presenter of the Peston on Sunday programme on ITV in April 2018 after two years in order to spend more time with her two young children, Vaughn and Xanthe.
She had reportedly returned to the show just six weeks after the birth of Xanthe in May 2017, initially taking her baby with her to work.
She also served as national editor at ITV News, a role she left in April this year in order to become Mr Sunak’s director of communications.
She has been credited with helping to boost the Chancellor’s public profile and increasing his popularity during the coronavirus crisis.
Downing Street’s plans to introduce the briefings suffered a set back at the end of August after it emerged that Sky News and the BBC may not always cover the events.
The UK’s two major broadcasters are expected to only show the briefings based ‘on merit’ which means they could cut away early or fail to show them at all if they are judged not to be newsworthy.
The decision to introduce the afternoon TV briefings was made by Number 10 as part of a bid to communicate more directly with voters.
The Government is keen to replicate the success of the daily Downing Street coronavirus press conferences which saw millions of people tune in for the latest updates.
The afternoon TV events will replace an existing off-camera press briefing currently carried out by the PM’s official spokesman.
A similar off-camera briefing which takes place in the morning will continue as normal.
The new briefings will take place in a revamped Number 9 Downing Street which is currently being turned into a media centre.