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Boris Johnson Copies Trump in War on U.K.’s Mainstream Media

  • Traditional briefings, access to officials have been curtailed
  • Some ministers don’t want to be seen talking with reporters
Boris Johnson marks the UK’s departure from the EU at 11pm on Jan. 31, 2020.
Boris Johnson marks the UK’s departure from the EU at 11pm on Jan. 31, 2020.Photographer: Andrew Parsons/No. 10

Deep inside 10 Downing Street on Jan. 31, Boris Johnson picked up a small, hand-held gong and beat it, on the stroke of 11 p.m. Surrounded by his closest aides and supporters, the British prime minister was marking a moment in history -- the precise time at which the U.K. left the European Union after almost half a century of membership.

Or was he? For journalists covering Johnson’s government -- and their readers, viewers and listeners -- it is impossible to know for sure. No reporters were present. Nor was any independent camera crew there to record his video address to the nation, which was aired via social media earlier that night.