Politics Explained

Who could replace Laura Kuenssberg as BBC political editor?

For many she became the face of Brexit, a central figure in during the recent turbulence of British politics. Now, as she’s rumoured to be preparing to step down from the role, Sean O’Grady considers the runners and riders to replace her as BBC political editor

Friday 22 October 2021 22:35
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<p>Kuenssberg is simultaneously attacked as a lefty member of the metropolitan elite and as a Johnson patsy </p>

Kuenssberg is simultaneously attacked as a lefty member of the metropolitan elite and as a Johnson patsy

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Normally, Laura Kuenssberg is the one doing the reporting and weighing up the speculation about the careers of those in public life; now she, and the venerable office she holds, is the subject of rumour and gossip. For an institution so casually belittled by those who should know better, the post of political editor of the BBC is still, in its way, arguably as significant as that of archbishop of Canterbury, or a lower ranking cabinet minister, such as the Scotland Office, say. The BBC and its news channels remain where the public go to find a reliable account of what is going on, even in our polarised times.

In the past six turbulent years – Brexit, two general elections, a pandemic – Kuenssberg has acquitted herself with distinction. The fact that she is simultaneously attacked as a lefty member of the metropolitan elite and as a Johnson patsy, as well as a tool of various conflicting global and national conspiracies suggests that either at least some of her critics are wrong (and mad) or that she is the most successful double agent in history. A relatively easier life on the Today programme beckons.

Who should succeed her? There’s a soft convention for this quasi-constitutional position that it alternates between the two broad wings of politics, analogous to the way the speakership of the House of Commons usually swaps between Labour and the Conservatives. Downing Street, very discreetly, obviously take an interest in the appointment. In recent decades the former senior Guardian journalist John Cole was succeeded during John Major’s premiership by Robin Oakley, a former political editor at The Times. He, in turn, was succeeded, a little controversially during Tony Blair and Alistair Campbell’s time, by the former Independent editor Andrew Marr. By the time that David Cameron came to power Nick Robinson (once chair of the Young Conservatives) was the man standing in the cold outside No 10. Then it was Laura’s turn.

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