Downing Street press briefing room to open next week

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The Downing Street press room has been completed and will be used from next week, No 10 has confirmed.

All future coronavirus press conferences will take place in a No 9 Downing Street room which has been renovated at a cost of £2.6m.

The PM's spokeswoman Allegra Stratton said the room would also host White House-style daily televised briefings for journalists in the future.

Boris Johnson is expected to give a briefing from the room on Monday.

The price tag of the room has attracted criticism including from the Labour shadow minister Rachel Reeves who described it as "a vanity project".

But Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said it was important for the government to be able to communicate with the public in "an effective, coherent way".

A Freedom of Information request by the Press Association found that £1,848,695.12 was spent on the "main works", £198,023.75 on "long lead items", and £33,394.63 on broadband equipment.

The briefings had been due to start last autumn but were delayed during the coronavirus lockdown.

Currently, political journalists are able to question the prime minister's official spokesperson off camera every week day, but this is due to move to the new briefing room.

Asked if the government was still planning to go ahead with the on-camera briefings, Ms Stratton said: "Yes, we are but we just don't know yet when. It is all about hitting milestones in the road map."

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