Boris Johnson appoints Allegra Stratton as new White House-style spokesperson

Ashley Cowburn
·2-min read
Allegra Stratton (Rex)

Allegra Stratton has been appointed as Boris Johnson’s press secretary to front the new White House-style televised briefings at No 10.

Until now, the former ITV journalist has been working alongside the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, as director of communications.

Widely considered the frontrunner for the job since the Conservative party opened applications for the high-profile role in the summer, Ms Stratton will rapidly become one of the most recognisable figures in government.

Earlier this year, the prime minister revealed No 10 was going to “have a go” at the live briefings following the daily coronavirus updates fronted by cabinet ministers, Mr Johnson and scientific advisers during the initial months of the coronavirus pandemic.

“People have liked a more direct, detailed information from the government about what is going,” Mr Johnson said.

Before entering government, Ms Stratton also worked as Newsnight’s political editor, co-presented ITV’s Peston on Sunday programme and was employed as a political correspondent for The Guardian.

The advertisement for the political role – reported to command a salary of over £100,000 – said hopefuls would need to be an “experienced and confident media operator who would enjoy working on camera with senior ministers, political advisers, officials and journalists; who would relish the challenge and pace of televised briefings, and who has a strong grasp of foreign and domestic issues”.

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It added the successful applicant 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 to have the chance to influence and shape public opinion”.

As opposed to an impartial civil servant, the politically-appointed special adviser will be able to take aim at opponents and defend the government's actions.

The the daily, off-camera briefing from the prime minister’s official spokesperson, who is a civil servant, will continue alongside the new televised conference hosted at Downing Street.

For many years, the White House has held similar briefings for Washington-based journalists fronted by the administration’s press secretary and US presidents have often made appearances at them. Donald Trump has hired several individuals to the role since entering the Oval Office in 2016, including Stephanie Grisham, Sarah Sanders, Sean Spicer and Kayleigh McEnany, who is currently serving in the role.