Quick, blame Russia! London’s much-panned new press briefing room somehow cost £2.6mn
The UK’s fantastically expensive overhaul of 9 Downing Street’s press briefing room has left much to be desired, panned by early viewers as a setting for “dictator-like party-political broadcasts” and by others as “a bit cheap.”
Set against a background of bright blue, the speaker’s podium – flanked by four Union Jacks – could be swapped out for a two-person particleboard table. A mammoth flat-screen dominates one wall, flashing a coat of arms.
Adding insult to injury, the Cabinet Office reportedly claimed the makeover cost a tidy £2,607,767.67 in response to a Freedom of Information request filed through the Press Association.
feels like an SNL sketch set— andras brz 🇪🇺 (@andras_ab) March 15, 2021
Many on social media were taken aback to discover that their government had blown their taxes on such a ghastly setup.
£10K for material and labour. £2.5M on consultants.— Gavmeister™ Esq. (@gavinaldrich) March 15, 2021
Others tried to find science in the ugliness...
The blue and brown prevent journalists from asking critical questions.The blue gives the speaker behind the desk the image of a trustworthy person.The uncomfortable chairs against the blue background makes the journalists feel unimportant and members of government very important— Kerssemakers (@Roelandpaul) March 15, 2021
... while many suggested the balance of construction had either been pocketed in good-old-boy graft or spent in upscale surveillance equipment.
Clearly a lot of personal friends were involved— James Dornan SNP (@glasgowcathcart) March 15, 2021
Others wondered if the lion’s share of the money was sunk into trap doors for disposing of troublesome journalists.
Ah… but you can’t see the trapdoors under each seat concealing the shark pool into which anyone asking awkward questions is dropped.— MessyLionel🏴💙 (@art_bowles) March 15, 2021
The Daily Mail claimed to have gotten to the bottom of the mystery, declaring that “much of the equipment used in the briefing room was installed by a Russian-owned company with links to state broadcaster Russia Today.” A company called Megahertz was said to have been hired to “install microphones, control desks, cameras and computers” – few of which were actually visible in the preview shots of the hideous briefing room.
EXCLUSIVE: We've been leaked the first pictures from inside Downing Street's new £2.6m media briefing room. The blue TV set includes four Union Jack flags and was built with the help of a Russian-owned firm.Full write-up from my producer @NathanLeeTV.https://t.co/cmZ2xnJAcI— Paul Brand (@PaulBrandITV) March 15, 2021
MP Chris Bryant pronounced the “new vanity project” to be “dodgy” in an interview with HuffPost, which confirmed that Megahertz had done “crucial work” to prepare the cheesy setup to receive timeless words of wisdom from PM Boris Johnson and his spokeswoman Allegra Stratton. Why the UK would employ a company seemingly controlled by a nation awaiting designation as London’s “biggest state-based threat” to construct its briefing setup was not explained. However, despite the temptation of the low-hanging “blame Russia” fruit, Stratton told the Daily Mail that “all the correct processes have been followed,” insisting “it’s absolutely not something we would ever cut corners on.”Also on rt.com ‘Russia will outgun UK in artillery battle’ – British defense committee uses Russia as bogeyman in apparent bid for more funding
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