Profile: Allegra Stratton - the face of No. 10’s new televised press briefings
Former BBC journalist to front US-style daily updates at Downing Street
Former BBC journalist Allegra Stratton is in the media spotlight after landing what some commentators are calling “the worst job in politics” - fronting No. 10’s new daily televised press briefings.
Stratton has served as director of strategic communications for Chancellor Rishi Sunak since quitting broadcasting in July, but is now leaving the Treasury to become Boris Johnson’s most high-profile spokesperson.
The No. 10 newcomer has “impeccable Tory connections” and “bucketloads of broadcast experience – a must for what’s likely to be a difficult job”, says The Independent says. She is married to James Forsyth - who is political editor at The Spectator, which the prime minister used to edit - and Sunak was best man at their wedding.
Now aged 39, Stratton kicked off her journalistic career as a producer at the BBC after graduating from Cambridge University. Following a spell as political correspondent for The Guardian, she returned to the BBC as the political editor of Newsnight, and also put in a stint at ITV News.
Stratton is no stranger to being in the media spotlight either. As Newsnight editor, she was at the centre of an outcry over the alleged humiliation of single mother featured in a report about the government’s cuts to benefits. The programme later issued an apology after more than 50,000 people signed a petition.
Stratton was appointed to the Downing Street briefings role, currently being filled by Johnson’s official spokesperson James Slack, after “impressing” the PM with her performance at the Treasury, says HuffPost.
But the task facing her is a tricky one. A Labour adviser told The Guardian that it was an “awful job”, while the newspaper notes that Stratton “arrives at a moment when the government is besieged by restive backbenchers sceptical about Covid restrictions, and facing fierce criticism over the way they are being communicated”.
The high-profile nature of the role has also triggered criticism from the opposition benches, with Keir Starmer arguing that the appointment risks “unbalancing the political discourse”.