Downing Street has revealed plans to televise daily press briefings with Westminster journalists in a major change to its communications strategy.
Lobby correspondents – the political reporters based in the Houses of Parliament – currently have twice daily briefings with the Prime Minister’s spokesman or deputy, who are both civil servants.
The briefings are on the record, meaning they can be quoted and attributed to Number 10, but are not broadcast.
Under the new plans, the afternoon session will be filmed at 9 Downing Street, while the morning briefing will continue to be held behind closed doors.
An experienced broadcaster is reportedly being sought to lead the White House-style briefings on behalf of the Government.
Boris Johnson confirmed the changes in an interview with LBC Radio, suggesting the public had liked having more direct information from ministers during the coronavirus press conferences.
He said: “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” at the briefings.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman later said that 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,” he said.
“Obviously what that will allow them to do is answer political questions in a way that I’m not (able to).”
The spokesman said that the daily coronavirus press conferences had shown that “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”.