Rishi Sunak will reportedly usher in a new approach by reducing the number of appearances by government ministers on TV and radio breakfast news.
Under the new approach, first reported by the Daily Mirror, ministers will be offered to broadcasters just three mornings a week, only appearing when there is an “announcement” or new government policy to cover.
Until now, the daily broadcast round has involved government ministers appearing on BBC Breakfast and ITV’s Good Morning Britain, as well as the traditional 8.10am interview slot on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, where they would hope to “drop a word in the ear of the nation”.
The convention was disrupted during Boris Johnson’s time in Downing Street, particularly during the 2019 general election. The then-editor of Today, Sarah Sands, said the government was “putting its foot on the windpipe” of the radio station.
The snubbing of BBC Radio 4 ended at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, but shortly after the government turned its cold shoulder towards ITV, where it stopped ministers from appearing on Good Morning Britain for seven months.
It followed impassioned criticism of the government during Covid by the then-presenter Piers Morgan and his co-host Susanna Reid.
Other broadcasters shunned by Downing Street included Channel 4 News.
It is understood that Downing Street will now take a “flexible” approach to appearances, with sources rejecting the suggestion the move amounts to an axing of the broadcast round.
The former ITV head of UK news and head of politics Amber de Botton was recently appointed as Sunak’s director of communications after he entered Downing Street.
Some have pointed out that it appears to clash with Sunak’s first speech as prime minister when he said the government would have “integrity, professionalism and accountability at every level”.
The shadow justice secretary, Steve Reed, tweeted that it “looks like Sunak’s commitment to accountability has gone the same way as his commitment to integrity and professionalism”.
Meanwhile Reid, who still fronts the ITV show, said it would be a “huge mistake”.