Have I Got News For You’s Ian Hislop Savagely Mocks Government’s Briefing Room Spending On Question Time

by : Emma Rosemurgey on : 19 Mar 2021 08:00
Have I Got News For You's Ian Hislop Savagely Mocks Government's Briefing Room Spending On Question TimeBBC/ITV News

Private Eye editor Ian Hislop has savagely mocked the British government’s decision to build a new press briefing room in Downing Street at a cost of £2.6 million.

The Have I Got News For You team captain appeared on BBC’s Question Time yesterday, March 18, where he laid into the government’s unusual spending choices, including the eye-watering £37 billion on the development of the Track and Trace app.


All the while, he pointed out, while offering nurses a measly pay rise of just 1% after more than a year of working on the front line throughout the pandemic.

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‘It’s a ridiculous amount of money and it shows this government’s skills with procurement once again,’ he told host Fiona Bruce.


‘£2.6 million for a couple of microphones? Brilliant. I mean it’s no wonder test and trace cost £37 billion, it’s absolutely fatuous.’

Hislop went on to mock the decision to employ a Russian company, which allegedly has links to state-based broadcaster Russia Today, to create the White House-style press room.

‘The idea that the prime minister can’t even have a room to make speeches to talk about things unless its subsidised by some sort of Russian company with links to RT, I mean it just beggars belief,’ he continued.

Ian Hislop Savagely Mocks Government's Briefing Room Spending On Question TimeBBC

‘It’s the idea that he can’t buy a sofa for less than £250,000 from the designer, literally it’s a metaphor for an entire year of COVID incompetence.’

Hislop added:

You are meant to be politicians but the sheer tin ear of saying in a week where the nurses are getting a 1% pay rise, ‘I think I need a big room with some microphones in it, and then I can go and announce to people, what? I don’t know.’

The journalist went on to point out that we’ve already had a whole year of press briefings from the government without the need for a £2.6 million press room, adding that he ‘likes the slides’.


In response, Victoria Atkins, Conservative MP and under-secretary of state for safeguarding, said the new press room was about the government wanting to be more ‘transparent’ with the British people.

Ian Hislop Savagely Mocks Government's Briefing Room Spending On Question TimeBBC

‘I’m not a building expert nor am I an interior designer, I do not know what that money was spent on. I haven’t seen the plans, I don’t know for example whether there were structural alterations,’ she said.

‘What we’re trying to do with the broadcasts, when they happen, is to open up politics to the public. We’re trying to be more transparent.’


The government has defended its decision to invest in a press room, adding that the expense was largely down to ensuring it was ‘secure’.

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Emma Rosemurgey

Emma Rosemurgey is an NCTJ trained journalist who started her career by producing The Royal Rosemurgey newspaper in 2004, which kept her family up to date with the goings on of her sleepy north east village. She graduated from the University of Central Lancashire in Preston and started her career in regional newspapers before joining Tyla (formerly Pretty 52) in 2017, and progressing on to UNILAD in 2019.

Topics: News, Downing Street, Now


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