Downing Street media room to host Covid briefings after £2.6m refurb completed

Patrick Daly, PA Political Correspondent
·2-min read

The Prime Minister will make his debut appearance in Downing Street’s newly-completed White House-style briefing room next week when he leads a Government press conference.

Downing Street has confirmed that work on its media room in No 9 – which the PA news agency revealed had cost £2.6 million to install – is finished.

Labour previously branded the hi-tech refurbishment a “vanity project”.

The briefing room will host future Government coronavirus press briefings as of Monday, when Boris Johnson addresses the nation about the next stage of lockdown easing.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson will lead the first Covid press conference on Monday from No 9 Downing Street
Prime Minister Boris Johnson will lead the first Covid press conference on Monday from No 9 Downing Street (Hannah McKay/PA)

On March 29, further restrictions will be lifted, with the “stay home” guidance removed and limited contact between different households permitted, along with many outdoor activities and sports.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman told reporters: “Work on the briefing room in No 9 Downing Street is now complete, so going forward all future coronavirus press conferences will take place over in No 9.

“They will begin on Monday when the Prime Minister does a press conference in there.”

Mr Johnson’s press secretary Allegra Stratton said the Government still planned to go ahead with daily televised briefings – the concept that was the main driver behind creating the new media space.

Leaked images have shed light on what the No 9 press briefing room looks like
Leaked images have shed light on what the No 9 press briefing room looks like (ITV News)

The launch of the televised briefings had been anticipated as early as the autumn, but in January No 10 said they were being delayed as ministers planned to hold regular press conferences during the lockdown.

Lobby correspondents, the political reporters based in Parliament, currently have daily briefings with the Prime Minister’s official spokesman, or his deputy – both civil servants.

But under proposals set out in July, an afternoon session will be filmed at 9 Downing Street, led by Ms Stratton.

As a politically appointed special adviser, rather than an impartial civil servant, she will be able to take aim at opponents as well as defend the Government’s actions.

Ms Stratton said: “Yes, we are (intending to go ahead with the televised briefings) but we just don’t know yet when.

“It is all about hitting milestones in the road map.”