Downing Street's televised White House-style press briefings scrapped after £2.6m spent on studio

Downing Street's televised briefings are being scrapped Credit: No 10

Plans for White House-style TV briefings - which saw the government spend £2.6 million on a new studio and hire a £125,000 a year press secretary - have been scrapped.

Explaining the move, Downing Street said the "benefits" of ministers speaking directly to the public at press conference had been noted, and a decision was made that there'd be no need to press ahead with the plans.

"During the pandemic, we have seen the benefits of ministers, including the prime minister, and other experts conducting press conferences and being able to speak directly to the public," the PM's official spokesman said.

"So with that in mind a decision was taken to continue to use the studio in No 9 for ministerial press conferences, so the public can hear direct from their elected representatives."

Downing Street said the £2.6 million TV studio was a "very useful room", despite it never being used for its intended purpose.

Former journalist Allegra Stratton, who had selected to lead the briefings as Boris Johnson's press secretary, has been appointed spokesperson for the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, also known as COP26.

Allegra Stratton was due to front the new White-House style briefings. Credit: Aaron Chown/PA

Ms Stratton said in a statement: "I am delighted to be starting this new role. The COP26 climate conference is a unique opportunity to deliver a cleaner, greener world and I’m looking forward to working with the Prime Minister and Alok Sharma to ensure it is a success."

The PM's spokesman said briefing room will "continue to be used regularly".

"The prime minister used it yesterday for the press conference, it will be used for the US climate leaders' summit on Thursday so you will continue to see it regularly on your screens."

ITV News exclusively revealed photographs of the White House-style briefing room in March.

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The room came with a plush new studio, seating for journalists, official lecterns, four Union Jack flags and a Henry vacuum cleaner.

The project has proved controversial, suffering a number of setbacks and delays at significant cost.

It came in for widespread criticism when the true cost of the installation was revealed in a Freedom of Information request.

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

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