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Allegra Stratton named new Downing Street press secretary

Written by on 8 October 2020

Former journalist Allegra Stratton has become Downing Street’s new press secretary, Sky News understands.

The ex-BBC, ITN and Guardian reporter will front daily news conferences held by the government and likely become a household name.

She became director of strategic communications to Rishi Sunak earlier this year, following his promotion into Number 11.

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PM Boris Johnson launched a search for someone to front daily TV briefings

Ms Stratton is credited with sharpening up the chancellor’s social media presence and launching the “Eat Out To Help Out” meal discount scheme.

A former Guardian political correspondent and Newsnight political editor, she spent five years at ITV News as national editor and co-presented Peston on Sunday with Robert Peston.

In her new job, Ms Stratton will front daily TV briefings – inspired by the government’s COVID-19 news conferences, which boasted between two million and five million viewers a night.

The White House-style broadcasts will take place at 9 Downing Street where a former colonial courtroom is being transformed into a state-of-the-art broadcast hub.

More from Politics

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 17: (L-R) Britain's Chancellor Rishi Sunak, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Chief scientific officer Patrick Vallance give a press conference about the ongoing situation with the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak inside 10 Downing Street on March 17, 2020 in London, England. For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. (Photo by Matt Dunham - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
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Downing Street wants to emulate the daily coronavirus news conferences

Other contenders who were said to be in the running for the job on Boris Johnson’s media team were Angus Walker, a former ITV News correspondent and editor who became Education Secretary Gavin Williamson’s special adviser, and BBC political reporter Ellie Price.

Currently, political journalists are given a briefing by the prime minister’s official spokesman – who is a civil servant – behind closed doors.

But the job advert for a new political figure to lead TV briefings said: “You will represent the government and the prime minister to an audience of millions on a daily basis, across the main broadcast channels and social media, and have the chance to influence and shape public opinion.

“You will speak directly to the public on the issues they care most about, explaining the government’s position, reassuring people that we are taking action on their priorities and driving positive changes.”