Look a dog! Here's what the lobby asked the PM's spokesperson during the Brexit crisis
As the country watches the biggest political crisis in generations unfold, you could be forgiven for thinking lobby correspondents would be busy asking Boris Johson's official spokesperson about little else.
Instead, in a transcript shared by Buzzfeed News six journalists are revealed to have spent time asking about the Prime Minister's new dog, including details on whether it was toilet trained and if it had met Downing Street's resident cat.
As the PM's rescue dog arrived in Downing Street, many observed it was likely a useful distraction for Number 10 as they battle to keep control and field speculation over a general election.
The Westminster Lobby, a system often criticised as outdated and fostering an unhealthy relationship between political power and the media, is given access to closed door, twice daily briefings by the PM's spokesperson. Attendees include most of the countries political journalists from broadcast, print and online news.
Journalist 1: Does the dog have a name?
Prime Minister's spokesperson: I would expect the dog's name to be revealed shortly. But I don't have it with me. It arrived at 11 o'clock it was brought by Friends of Animals Wales to Number 10, they are a fantastic charity run by volunteers who work around the clock to make a difference to animals. The prime minister has always been a big supporter of animal welfare, has always believed that animals should get the right start in life. That's why the government has taken such significant action in this area.
Journalist 2: Forgive me if I've missed this but has the PM been to Balmoral yet?
Prime Minister spokesperson: Ahh, he has not no. As you will have noticed.
Journalist 2: What's that due to?
Prime Minister's spokesperson: Let me check that and come back to. But certainly not. Any other questions?
Journalist 3: Just on the dog, how old is the dog?
Prime Minister's spokesperson: Ah the dog is, a few months, three or four months. I can get the exact number at the next.
Journalist 3: Boy or girl?
Prime Minister's spokesperson: It's a boy.
Journalist 3: And the naming will be announced by...
Prime Minister's spokesperson: (Laughs) Genuinely I don't know, later on. I will check to see if I can help you out a bit more later on.
Journalist 4: Is there a breed?
Prime Minister's spokesperson: (Inaudible)
Journalist 3: Is it toilet trained? Is it moving into the flat?
Prime Minister's spokesperson: No, it's a rescue puppy, as I say, it has been rescued by the charity Friends of Animals Wales and they've been caring for the puppy so far.
Journalist 3: Do we know if it's toilet trained?
Prime Minister's spokesperson: I genuinely haven't asked.
Journalist 3: Can you ask because it's a considerable amount of time and the prime minister's time can't be taken up by that.
Prime Minister's spokesperson: (Laughs) Well I'd really love to check but I'd say that the charity have been looking after it for several weeks...
Journalist 5: One final question as to the dog, can't believe I'm asking a dog question, who does the dog ultimately belong to? Because there's obviously a cat, the cat will stay where it is and it's territorial and the dog...
Prime Minister's spokesperson: The dog belongs to the PM and Carrie Symonds.
Journalist 6: Has Larry met the dog?
Prime Minister's spokesperson: Larry will have probably met the dog probably by now, but he hadn't when I left.
The transcript published by Buzzfeed shows one lobby journalist asking if the puppy was toilet trained "because it's a considerable amount of time and the prime minister's time can't be taken up by that."
Guardian columnist Owen Jones it as "nauseatingly grotesque", and social media users were quick to criticise those journalists defending it.
Buzzfeed reported that the remaining 20 minutes of the briefing were spent discussing political issues.