Downing Street Press Secretary under Prime Minister Boris
Date of Birth: 10 April 1980
Age: 43 years old
Zodiac sign: Aries
Activity: British political aide, writer, and former journalist serving as the Downing Street Press Secretary under Prime Minister Boris Johnson since November 2020.
Profession: Press Secretary
Allegra Elizabeth Jane Stratton (born 10 April 1980) is a British political aide, writer, and former journalist serving as the Downing Street Press Secretary under Prime Minister Boris Johnson since November 2020.
Stratton worked for The Guardian as a political correspondent until joining the BBC in 2012. Stratton was the political editor of BBC Two's Newsnight from 2012 to 2015. She worked for ITV as national editor of ITV News from 2015 to 2018 and co-presenter of Peston on Sunday from 2016 to 2018.
After leaving her journalism career, Stratton became a Conservative Party political advisor. She was Chancellor Rishi Sunak's director of strategic communications at the Treasury from April to October 2020. She was announced as the new press secretary for 10 Downing Street on 8 October 2020.
Stratton was born in Chiswick, West London on 10 April 1980 as one of four children of a translator father and textile artist mother. She was named after Allegra Byron. Stratton attended Chiswick Community School and Latymer Upper School, an independent school in West London. She then transferred to Emmanuel College, Cambridge, where she read archaeology and anthropology.
Stratton worked as a producer for the BBC, on the foreign desk at The Times and wrote for The Independent and the New Statesman. She then joined The Guardian as a political correspondent, presenting the newspaper's "Politics Weekly" podcast with journalist Tom Clark.
During this period she wrote the novel Muhajababes, which explores the youth culture of the Middle East and the contradictions of the modern life of young adults in Muslim societies. The book was based on Stratton's experiences of travelling in the region in 2005.
Stratton returned to the BBC on 20 February 2012, as political editor of Newsnight, replacing Michael Crick who left to become a political correspondent for Channel 4. In May the same year, she faced criticism for a Newsnight interview with a single mother who was claiming housing benefit. The interviewee described feeling "humiliated" by Stratton, who misrepresented her as unemployed. Private Eye magazine reported that Stratton had chosen the single mother over several other interviewees offered, including a couple with four children who had lost their jobs and faced homelessness. This incident led to a 20,000-signature petition soliciting an apology from Stratton and Newsnight. Following an official complaint to the BBC's Editorial Complaints Unit, a correction and apology was issued in August.
In November 2015, Stratton left the BBC to join ITV News as its national editor. She made her first appearance on ITV's News at Ten in January 2016 and co-presented Peston on Sunday with Robert Peston until April 2018, when she departed to spend weekends with her children.
In April 2020, she quit ITV News to become director of strategic communications at the Treasury under Chancellor Rishi Sunak. Six months later, in October 2020, she was appointed the new Downing Street Press Secretary, and as such will be fronting the new televised press briefings originally scheduled for launch in November 2020. The briefings were delayed to 11 January 2021 and it was reported that they will take place when the House of Commons will sit on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. The January launch date has since been repeatedly delayed due to the COVID-19 lockdowns and the briefings could be axed.
Stratton is married to James Forsyth, political editor of The Spectator magazine. The couple have two children and live in Canonbury, North London. Future Chancellor Rishi Sunak was best man at their wedding in 2011, and they and Sunak are godparents to each other's children.
In November 2020, Stratton told The Sunday Telegraph that despite voting for the Labour Party, the Green Party and the Liberal Democrats in the past, she voted for Brexit and describes herself as "a Johnson Tory".
Stratton, Allegra (2006). Muhajababes (first ed.). London: Constable. ISBN 9781845294274.