Keir Starmer is to launch his own series of regular press conferences, in an attempt by Labour to highlight their own priorities ahead of Downing Street’s planned televised media briefings.
While the schedule and venue is yet to be determined, it is expected that Starmer’s press conferences could be held monthly, with the aim they would be open to all media.
A Labour source said: “Unlike the prime minister, Keir doesn’t duck the difficult questions or hide from the press. That’s why we’re up for doing regular press conferences.”
Boris Johnson and fellow cabinet ministers held daily televised press conferences during the peak of the coronavirus lockdown, from mid-March until June, often held alongside a senior medical or scientific adviser.
They now only take place intermittently, usually to coincide with a significant policy change. These have a limited number of pre-chosen participants, who are often not allowed to follow up their questions.
However, Downing Street is trying to recruit an experienced broadcaster to become a spokesperson and face of the government in more general daily press briefings intended to begin in the autumn.
These are intended to replace one of what was, before Covid, the two daily “lobby” briefings where accredited parliamentary journalists quiz the prime minister’s spokesperson, a process which is on the record but not filmed or photographed. Since lockdown, these have been replaced by a once-daily conference phone call.
Downing Street has yet to outline the format of the new event and whether, as with the lobby briefings, all parliamentary media can attend and ask as many questions as they want.
It is understood that if the No 10 briefings are carried daily by broadcasters, Labour would expect the same level of coverage for Starmer’s events to guarantee fairness.
What has yet to be determined by Labour is whether Starmer’s event will be in person or, as with the No 10 Covid briefings, online. The hope is for the former, but it will depend on the situation with coronavirus.
Both Tony Blair and Gordon Brown used to hold monthly press conferences as prime minister, along with the daily routine of their spokespeople attending lobby briefings.
David Cameron initially followed suit when he became prime minister in 2010, but dropped them relatively quickly.
Read the original article at The Guardian