UK government plans to hold daily White House-style televised press briefings

Handout photo issued by 10 Downing Street of Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a media briefing in Downing Street, London, on coronavirus

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Boris Johnson introduced daily briefings in March for updates on the coronavirus pandemic

The UK government is planning to introduce daily televised press briefings later this year.

A Downing Street source said the new format- similar to that used by the White House in the US – is expected to be brought in by October.

The new briefings would take place each weekday in the afternoon.

It is understood there will be a competitive process to recruit an experienced broadcaster to host the question-and-answer sessions.

Currently, political journalists are able to question the prime minister’s official spokesperson – who is a civil servant – off camera twice every day.

These briefings are on the record, meaning they can be quoted and attributed to the spokesperson.

Under the changes, the briefings will be on camera.

For several months during the coronavirus pandemic, the government held daily briefings from No 10 every day – a total of 92 briefings.

The televised briefings started on 16 March, following criticism of a lack of transparency over government plans to stem the spread of the virus, and ended on 23 June.

They were led by a senior minister – sometimes Boris Johnson – and normally accompanied by scientific and medical experts.

For many years, the White House held an on-camera daily press briefing every day, delivered by the administration’s press secretary.

Under US President Donald Trump, the briefings were stopped for more than a year. In May 2020, new US Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany held a briefing – the first one in 459 days.

The US daily press briefings were first televised in 1995, under then President Bill Clinton, according to the White House Historical Association. The White House has its own press briefing room.

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