The first glimpse of Boris Johnson’s £2.6 million Downing Street tv studio has raised questions about value for money.
The pictures from ITV News or the make-over of No.9 Downing Street to televise White House-style media briefings shows a disappointingly boring backdrop with four Union flags.
The project has proved controversial, already suffering a number of setbacks and delays at significant cost.
The images obtained by ITV News show a plush new studio with seating for journalists, an official Downing Street lecterns and four Union Jack flags.
The project received widespread criticism when the true cost of the installation was revealed in a Freedom of Information request last week.
Labour Shadow Chancellor, Rachel Reeves said: “Given how much money Boris Johnson has thrown at his latest vanity project, we were expecting something a bit more impressive.”
The SNP’s Westminster Deputy Leader Kirsten Oswald MP said: “It beggars belief that Boris Johnson is wasting millions of pounds of public money on ugly Tory vanity projects, and a luxury refurbishment of his apartment, at the same time as imposing a public sector pay freeze, cuts to Universal Credit and tax rises for millions of workers.”
Oswald added: “Yet again, the Tories are revealing themselves to be arrogant and completely out of touch by lavishing taxpayers’ cash on themselves while imposing austerity cuts on the rest of us.”
The briefings will be fronted by the Prime Minister’s spokesperson and former ITV News journalist, Allegra Stratton.
It is believed the idea was the brainchild of former director of communications, Lee Cain, who left Downing Street in December.
Questions are also being raised over the involvement of a Russian-owned company hired to carry out crucial work installing equipment, including microphones, control desks, cameras and computers.
Megahertz, the company contracted to install communications equipment, is owned by Okno-TV, a Moscow-based company that works closely with state controlled broadcaster Russia Today.
Rachel Reeves added: “This raises serious questions on who is getting rushed-through government contracts.
“And that’s before we even get to why our nurses are getting a pay cut while the government spends millions on a media briefing room.
“The fact the government seems to have simply brushed this off with no further transparency or assurances on how they’re spending British taxpayer money is deeply concerning.”
The true cost of the installation was revealed last week coming in at £1,848,695.12 for the “main works”/ Other costs included £198,023.75 on “long lead items” and £33,394.63 on “broadband equipment.”
The Prime Minister’s spokesperson, Allegra Stratton said: “All the correct processes have been followed, there are no concerns for our team.”