‘Shrewd move’ by Sunak? ITV’s Amber de Botton named Downing Street comms chief

Amber de Botton, the journalist who was most recently head of UK News at ITV News, has been appointed as Rishi Sunak’s director of communications at Downing Street.

(Photo by NIKLAS HALLE'N/AFP via Getty Images)

Amber De Botton enters Downing Street after five years at ITV News, having joined as head of politics in 2017. Her previous roles include deputy head of politics at Sky News and political editor at Total Politics.

She takes a special adviser role in Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s administration, which offers her freedom to advise on political strategy, rather than being an impartial civil servant.

The No. 10 comms director has varied between a political and Civil Service position in recent years. Jack Doyle, who held the position until February 2022, did so as a special adviser, with a political element to the role. His predecessor, James Slack, was a civil servant. Like Doyle, Lee Cain – the comms chief before Slack – held the role on a political basis.

In her short tenure as Prime Minister, Liz Truss split the role, with Simon McGee taking a Civil Service position and Adam Jones overseeing the political side of the operation.

It's not the first time Sunak has hired an ITV journalist in a senior comms position. In 2020, former ITV News national editor Allegra Stratton was appointed director of strategic communications to the Chancellor when Sunak held that role. Stratton later became spokesperson for then-Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s televised press briefings.

Fellow journalists and broadcasters have spoken positively about de Botton and her prospects as comms director at No. 10.

ITV News presenter Romilly Weeks tweeted that the appointment is a “shrewd move” by Sunak, calling de Botton “a great operator with brilliant instincts and one of the best bosses I’ve ever had”.

However, some PR industry figures have questioned the idea that an accomplished journalist will necessarily have the skills to succeed in a senior comms role:

De Botton did have a short stint in comms earlier in her career. According to her LinkedIn profile, she worked as a press officer at the Greater London Authority for eight months from 2007 to 2008.

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