Allegra Stratton – Profile

Downing Street Press Secretary

Allegra Stratton assumed her new role as Downing Street Press Secretary on 8 October 2020, and is steadily becoming a household name as the face of Downing Street. Following the perceived success of the daily televised press conferences that marked the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, Johnson decided to make such daily briefings a normal part of Downing Street life. As the Prime Minister’s Press Secretary, it is Stratton’s job to lead these briefings.

Before her new role, Stratton served as Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s Director of Strategic Communications between April 2020 to October 2020. During that time Sunak was said to have become far slicker in front of the cameras, and this, alongside the successful promotion of the government’s ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ scheme, were largely credited to Stratton’s influence. One person close to the government apparently claimed that the Prime Minister was slightly jealous of Sunak and ‘poached his top star’.

Televised Briefings

As the leader of daily press briefings, Stratton is set to become the UK equivalent to CJ Cregg from The West Wing; with the televised press conference format clearly an import from America. In America, the White House Press Secretary is one of the most recognized figures in the land, albeit former President Donald Trump’s record of three Press Secretaries in four years, reveals the sometimes tough nature of the role.

Before the televised briefings, twice-daily press briefings for political journalists took place off-camera in a remote corner of parliament.  Increased public engagement has been attributed as the reason behind Mr Johnson’s plans for the new televised briefings.  The idea of these televised briefings was criticized by Labour Leader Keir Starmer.

Allegra Stratton Salary

Prior to Stratton’s appointment, the Downing Street Press Secretary salary was said to be ‘based on experience’. It has been suggested that this taxpayer funded civil servant role could pay £100,000 per year.

Allegra Stratton Journalistic Career

Before her new role, Stratton was a well-known political journalist. She made her name in the media as a political reporter and as political correspondent for the Guardian, then becoming Political Editor of Newsnight from 2011 to 2015, and national Editor of ITV News from 2015 to 2018 – where she co-presented Peston on Sunday from 2016-2018. In fact, Stratton was reportedly considered for the post of Political Editor of BBC News back in 2015, although she was ultimately beaten out by Laura Kuenssberg.

Controversies

During her stint as Political editor for Newsnight, Stratton was caught in controversy following a segment she presented for the programme in 2012. In her report on the then-government’s proposed cuts to welfare benefits, she interviewed a single-mother who had just moved out of her parents’ two-bedroom flat. Stratton suggested that the woman had made ‘a choice’ to receive housing benefits and live in her own home, rather than stay with her mother. Stratton left out the fact that the single-mother in question was, in fact, working. The incident provoked headlines including: ‘How Newsnight humiliated single mother Shanene Thorpe’ and ‘How Newsnight demonised a single mother’. A subsequent petition seeking an apology from Stratton and the BBC amassed around 27,000 signatures.

Allegra Stratton Brexit

Stratton’s career has always been one of report rather than comment, and we therefore know little of her political views. It was previously suggested in the Evening Standard newspaper by a friend that Stratton was not ideological and that she was ‘pro-Remain but got that the EU is not great’. Contradicting this, Stratton has told the Telegraph that despite voting for Labour, the Greens and the Lib Dems in the past, she voted for Brexit and is a ‘Johnson Tory’.

Allegra Stratton – Background

Early Life

In her youth, Stratton attended Latymer Upper School, an independent school in West London, before studying Archeology and Anthropology at Cambridge University. After graduating, Stratton went straight into journalism-becoming a producer for the BBC before transferring to the Guardian.

Allegra Stratton‘s Husband

In 2011, Stratton married James Forsyth, the editor of Spectator – a job Boris Johnson once held. Allegra Stratton and her husband are close friends with Chancellor Rishi Sunak. Sunak was indeed best man at Stratton’s wedding, and the pairings are godparents to each other’s children.

Friendships

A well-connected individual, Stratton is reportedly good friends with Ed Miliband and was close with the late Labour MP Jo Cox.