A former newspaper and broadcast journalist has been named the new downing street press secretary, as the government prepares to launch daily televised briefings later this year.
Allegra stratton, currently director of strategic communications at the treasury, is expected to take up the role next month, filling what is expected to be one of the most challenging positions within government.
Prime minister boris johnson faces growing questions about his governments handling of the pandemic and the economic fallout, as the uk experiences a resurgence of infections.
On thursday, more than 17,000 coronavirus cases were recorded within the uk, while the latest test-and-trace data revealed that the number of cases in england had surged by 56 per cent in the week to september 30.
Giles kenningham, founder of advisory firm trafalgar strategy and a former spokesman for ex-prime minister david cameron, said ms stratton's new role would make her one of the biggest, well-known faces in the country during one of the greatest crises in decades.
She is coming into the job at an unprecedented time and with unprecedented scrutiny and pressure, added to the fact that its going to be the first time the uk has done this, he said.
So the tv networks are going to be really interested not just in her language but also will be poring over her body language.
During the height of the pandemic, the government held daily televised press briefings, presented by a rotating selection of cabinet ministers and advisers.
The briefings, which were designed to communicate the latest updates on the spread of the infection as well as government measures to combat the virus, were suspended in june as the immediate crisis eased.
Ms strattons appointment forms part of a wider strategy by mr johnson to engage more directly with the public and gain control over the news narrative.
In july, the financial times revealed that downing street was launching plans to introduce daily white house-style press briefings.
As part of the plans, it was expected that the number of press office staff would be slimmed down, while it was reported that number 10 would hire an experienced broadcaster to lead the briefings.
In an interview with lbc earlier this year, mr johnson argued that the reaction to the televised coronavirus briefings suggested the public preferred a more direct style of political communication.
However, alastair campbell, downing street director of communications under tony blair, argued the appointment signalled that the prime minister was more concerned about the optics of being prime minister rather than the policy.
The whole thing is part of the undermining of parliament and a further sign that johnson is basically still a journalist who cares a lot more about the story than he does about the responsibility of being pm, he said.
The position, which was advertised on the conservative party linkedin page, sought candidates with attributes such as risk management and crisis communication skills.
The job advert also outlined that the new spokesperson would represent the government and the prime minister to an audience of millions on a daily basis, across the main broadcast channels and social media, and have the chance to influence and shape public opinion.
Prior to working for chancellor rishi sunak, ms stratton worked as a political journalist at itn, the bbc and the guardian newspaper.