BORIS Johnson's press secretary Allegra Stratton was "elbowed out" of the key role by male aides, according to a report in a Sunday newspaper.

The former BBC and ITV journalist was appointed to the high profile role in October last year taking up the £125,000 per annum post the following month. It was expected she would lead No 10's daily televised press briefings.

But her live press conferences, which were due to be similar to the format used by the White House in the United States and were to take place in a new purpose-built £2.6 million media centre at Number 9 Downing Street, never materialised.

Last week, in what was widely seen as a demotion, it emerged Stratton, 41, was being sidelined from being the PM's press secretary to head up the communications team for COP26, the UN Climate Change Conference due to take place in Glasgow in November.

It was reported that while she is said to be putting a positive spin on the new post - based in No9 with Alok Sharma, the Cabinet minister in charge of the conference - she was bitterly disappointed at the move.

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"Losing the Downing Street role is the first setback in her career," according to a Westminster insider. "She's taken it very hard."

Now, according to a report in the Sunday Times today Stratton was pressured out of the prestigious role by unnamed male colleagues.

The paper said: "Allegra Stratton has been elbowed out as press secretary by male aides and is now spokeswoman for the COP26 climate change conference. Her planned regular live TV briefings have been scrapped."

Earlier last year, Stratton, who is a friend of Johnson's fiancee Carrie Symonds, quit journalism to become the director of strategic communications for Chancellor Rishi Sunak.

Johnson is said to have been impressed by Sunak's media profile and believed Stratton's advice could help him get his message across and improve his popularity.

Responding to an inquiry from The National about Stratton's "being elbowed out by male aides", a No 10 spokesperson said: "This government is entirely focused on fighting coronavirus, delivering vaccines and building back better.”

The revelations over Stratton come as a crisis engulfs Downing Street which relate to claims of sleaze and government competency made by Johnson's former chief aide Dominic Cummings.