UK’s Boris Johnson seeks tough spokesperson for TV briefings

LONDON (AP) — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is looking for a spokesperson with broadcasting experience— and a thick skin — to become the government’s face at televised media briefings.

The government placed a job ad Wednesday on the governing Conservative Party’s website seeking applicants with news judgment, the ability to remain calm under pressure and “excellent risk management and crisis communications skills.”

For years, the prime minister’s official spokespeople, who are civil servants rather than political appointees, have briefed political journalists off-camera but on the record twice daily. Starting in the fall, the morning briefing will continue in the current format but the afternoon session will be a televised briefing led by a political appointee, similar to those held at the White House.

The job advertisement says the position is “a unique opportunity to … communicate with the nation on behalf of the prime minister,” with the chance to “influence and shape public opinion.”

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The ad says salary will be based on experience, though the Conservative-leaning Daily Telegraph newspaper reported it would be over 100,000 pounds ($130,000) a year.

The spokesperson is likely to become a lighting rod for criticism of the government at a time of multiple crises. Britain is still battling the coronavirus outbreak that has left nearly 46,000 people dead, and is due to make a definitive break from the European Union when a post-Brexit transition period ends on Dec. 31.

Viewers around the world are used to seeing televised White House briefings by the U.S. president’s press secretary, although the briefings have become sporadic under the Trump administration.

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