Who is Allegra Stratton, Boris Johnson’s new White House-style TV voice?

Ex-journalist is married to the political editor of Boris Johnson’s former magazine

2BKP85N London, UK. 5th May, 2020. Allegra Stratton, Rishi Sunak's Head of Communications, arrives in Downing Street. Credit: Mark Thomas/Alamy Live News

Former journalist Allegra Stratton is set to lead No 10 Downing Street’s new televised press conferences as the British government’s press secretary.

Ms Stratton, 39, will chair the daily government press conference, similar to the style of US press briefings during the coronavirus pandemic.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson hopes such briefings will offer the public more “direct engagement” with the government.

Downing Street has not commented on the appointment of Ms Stratton.

Ms Stratton began her career in print newspapers, working as political correspondent at The Guardian before going on to work for the BBC and ITV broadcasters. At the BBC, she was Newsnight's political editor before she worked as national editor for ITV for five years and co-presented Peston on Sunday with Robert Peston.

In April this year, she quit ITV to become Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s director of strategic communications at the Treasury. She was credited for bolstering the chancellor’s social media image and helping him launch the ‘Eat out to help out scheme’ to help restaurants lure back customers amid the pandemic.

Mr Johnson has picked a close-knit group to handle his communications and advise his policies. Ms Stratton is married to James Forsyth, the political editor of The Spectator – the magazine Mr Johnson used to edit before he went into politics. Mr Forsyth works alongside the commissioning editor at the same magazine who is married to Dominic Cummings, the prime minister's most senior adviser.

Currently, political journalists have the opportunity to report on two government briefings each day, but they take place behind closed doors. However, the briefings are on the record, meaning that journalists are able to quote the spokesperson directly for articles. One of these daily briefings will be replaced by the televised news conference.

The new role will require Ms Stratton to represent the government to an audience of millions on a daily basis across the main broadcast channels and social media.