Boris Johnson seeks spokesperson to front White House-style briefings

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Boris Johnson has begun the search for a spokesperson to front daily White House-style media briefings.

The job, advertised on the Conservative LinkedIn page, is described as a chance to “communicate with the nation on behalf of the prime minister”.

“Essential skills” include “excellent risk management and crisis communication skills”.

The salary is “based on experience”, but the Daily Telegraph suggests it is likely to be more than £100,000-a-year.

The successful applicant is likely to be an experienced broadcaster – and the subject of intense media scrutiny.

In the US, presidential spokesman such as Sean Spicer and Anthony Scaramucci became household names and sometimes found themselves at the centre of controversy.

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Donald Trump’s first presidential spokesman Sean Spicer was a controversial figure

Traditionally, the UK government’s twice daily media briefings have been held behind closed doors, with a civil servant taking questions from a group of accredited journalists, known as the lobby. Quotes are attributed to the “prime minister’s official spokesman”.

From September, the afternoon lobby briefing will be filmed at 9 Downing Street, while the morning session will continue to be off-camera.

‘Political move’

The new spokesperson will be employed as a special adviser, a temporary class of civil servant allowed to give political advice to ministers, meaning they will be free to attack the opposition parties, as well as setting out the government’s position.

Labour Leader Sir Keir Starmer has warned that the plan could risk “unbalancing the political discourse” and is “obviously a political move”. He said Labour was considering ways to get a right of reply to the briefings.

The prime minister has defended the plan, saying it will build on the experience of the daily coronavirus press conference which gave people “more direct, detailed information from the government”.

The job description tells potential applicants: “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.”

The successful applicant would need to be “an experienced and confident media operator who would enjoy working on camera and 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 policy issues”.

Applicants are asked to email a CV and a “statement of suitability of no more than 500 words” to Downing Street by 21 August.

The successful candidate “must also be willing to undergo security clearance”.


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