Laura Kuenssberg to step down as BBC political editor

The journalist will move to a senior presenting and reporting role for television, radio and online

Alex Green
Monday 20 December 2021 12:58
Laura Kuenssberg (Dominic Lipinski/PA)
Laura Kuenssberg (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Laura Kuenssberg has confirmed she is stepping down as the BBC’s political editor after seven years in the job – and a blizzard of claims of bias.

The journalist, who has been subjected to intense scrutiny, will leave the role next Easter to take up a senior presenting and reporting position across the corporation. Her work will encompass television, radio and online.

Kuenssberg, who was raised in Glasgow, succeeded Nick Robinson as political editor in 2015, becoming the first woman to hold the position.

In her time covering major events including the Brexit referendum, the government’s response to the pandemic and two general elections, critics have often claimed she favoured the government over the Labour Party.

But a stream of other high-profile journalists and commentators praised her professionalism in response to her confirmation. Victoria Derbyshire described her as a “total legend”.

According to the corporation’s most recent annual report, Kuenssberg earned between £260,000 and £264,999.

The BBC has not yet begun recruiting for her successor but said it planned to launch a “competitive” process.

Kuenssberg, who previously was the BBC’s chief political correspondent and the first business editor of ITV News, said: “I’ve been so lucky to do the best daily reporting job in the business, with the best colleagues anyone could wish for. It’s been incredible to occupy the chair during a time of such huge change and to try to make sense of it for our viewers, listeners and readers online.

“I’ll miss the daily drama, and our wonderful team in Westminster, immensely. But after nearly seven years and what feels like decades’ worth of headlines, it’s time for the next move.”

Kuenssberg added on Twitter that she was taking a break from work over Christmas but promised “PLENTY of news to come over the next few weeks and while I’m still in the chair until April”.

Other changes in the BBC’s on-air staff include Andrew Marr leaving for media company Global, and Jon Sopel stepping down as North America editor after seven years.

Sopel, whose return to the UK sparked speculation he could take over Kuenssberg’s role, tweeted: “Laura – as they say where I’ve been living all the time you’ve been pol ed: you smashed it out of the park. What an astonishing run you’ve had x.”

Director-general Tim Davie said: “Laura has been an outstanding BBC political editor throughout the most turbulent political times in living memory. Her incisive commentary, tough questioning and astute insight have guided our audiences through the last seven years.

“She’s a superb interviewer and engaging presenter, and I’m thrilled that we are keeping her on our screens and airwaves. I’m looking forward to her next chapter.”

The BBC’s outgoing director of news, Fran Unsworth, said: “Laura’s a born journalist and she’s done an amazing job as political editor. She’s an energetic and determined story-getter, who gets straight to the heart of the issue and knows exactly the right questions to ask.

Kuenssberg interviews then Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson

“Our political coverage would have been immeasurably poorer without Laura as political editor. We’re lucky to have her.”

Her departure leaves open the key role of political editor at a time when the future of the BBC licence fee is being negotiated.

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