Senior Tories say ‘bl**dy boring’ daily No10 coronavirus briefings should be scaled back to once a week to ‘normalise’ the country and stop the government feeling obliged to announce things
- Daily Downing Street briefings have been held on coroanvirus since mid-March
- Senior Tories say the government is under pressure to make announcements
- Calls for the press conference to be scaled back as part of efforts to normalise
- Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19
Senior Tories have urged Downing Street to scale back ‘bloody boring’ daily coronavirus briefings as part of efforts to normalise the country.
One MP warned that having the updates seven days a week was creating pressure for announcements, whether there was anything to say or not.
Messages were being delivered without being ‘tested’ as the government machine struggles to maintain the pace, they said.
A former minister, David Jones, agreed that the briefings were ‘not helping’ with the public mood, saying the ‘psychology’ of lockdown was a major problem.
The government has been staging the evening No10 briefings since mid-March, when the coronavirus crisis took hold of the country.
They have been led by a handful of senior ministers – almost all of them male – including Boris Johnson, Rishi Sunak, Dominic Raab, Matt Hancock, Michael Gove, and Grant Shapps. The politicians are typically accompanied by one or two scientists or medics who answer technical aspects of questions.
The government has been staging the evening No10 briefings since mid-March, when the coronavirus crisis took hold of the country. Pictured, Boris Johnson (centre), chief scientific officer Patrick Vallance (left) and chief medical officer Chris Whitty (right) last week
The only days when there have not been press briefings over the past 10 weeks were when Mr Johnson made a TV address to the nation instead
Initially the briefings were held in person with journalists in Westminster, but as the UK went into lockdown they became ‘virtual’ with the interrogation carried out over Zoom.
Downing Street aides have also introduced questions from the public to shake up the format, which are chosen by a polling company. Sometimes people are allowed follow-ups, other times not.
The only days when there have not been press briefings over the past 10 weeks were when Mr Johnson made a TV address to the nation instead.
A senior Tory MP told MailOnline: ‘I think there is a very very good argument to say suspend the press conference and just have one a week on the track and trace stuff.
‘A press conference without an announcement is just pretty bl**dy boring.
‘To start with we all tuned in avidly. It was like the early episodes of EastEnders, everybody watched.
And now people go and rearrange their shell collection or dust their pencil cases. It has all become a bit boring.
‘To fill it, what is the new announcement today? This is part of the problem. I don’t think that messages are being tested.’
Mr Jones suggested the psychological effects of lockdown were one of the reasons it needed to be eased as soon as possible, and the briefings added to the intensity.
‘The point is that this has been droning on for such a long time, any relaxation is welcome. People have got to have something to look forward to,’ the MP said.
‘A lot of this is psychological. There is that expression, FOGO, fear of going out.
‘People need to get out and about. People need to be trusted. Most people are sensible, they have got enough common sense to realise you stay as far away from people as you possibly can.
Initially the briefings were held in person with journalists in Westminster, but as the UK went into lockdown they became ‘virtual’ with the interrogation carried out over Zoom. Pictured, PHE Medical Director Yvonne Doyle last week
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