Laura Kuenssberg ‘in talks to step down as BBC political editor’

Jon Sopel reportedly poised to replace her as he returns from Washington role

Jane Dalton
Thursday 21 October 2021 21:24
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<p>Ms Kuenssberg has been in the role for six years </p>

Ms Kuenssberg has been in the role for six years

Laura Kuenssberg is in talks to step down as BBC political editor after six years and switch to presenting the Today programme, it has been reported.

She could potentially be replaced by Jon Sopel, currently the corporation’s North America editor, who is returning to the UK next month and taking time off before returning to work next year.

The BBC said Mr Sopel’s role was being advertised internally and would not confirm that Ms Kuenssberg was switching roles.

The corporation’s first female political editor has been subject to vitriolic attacks on social media, with critics accusing her of bias, particularly those on the left who claim she is sympathetic to the Conservatives.

Her move would be part of a widescale reshuffle of senior reporters, a source told The Guardian.

A BBC spokesperson told The Independent: “The North America editor role is currently being advertised internally and the role will go through the normal recruitment process; it’s a bit soon to start speculating about the outcome of this, let alone other jobs which aren’t actually vacant.”

Mr Sopel, who was linked to the political editor job six years ago, is tipped to be replaced in Washington DC by Sarah Smith, the BBC’s Scotland editor and occasional Today presenter.

Ms Kuenssberg’s deal has yet to be signed off and there is no confirmed timeframe, The Guardian reported.

A note seen by The Independent, from head of news Jonathan Munro to staff earlier this week, announcing Mr Sopel’s move, read: “He will wrap up in Washington at the end of November, then take a career break to catch up with family now dotted around the globe, before returning to a role in the BBC next year.

“Jon has been at the forefront of our coverage during his posting, which incorporated three presidents, two elections and two impeachments.”

The note quoted Mr Sopel as saying: “I’m now going to return to London and take a few months off before working on a plan for what comes next.”

Next year, when the BBC celebrates its centenary, marks the beginning of the mid-term review of the corporation’s royal charter, following anger last year when aides to the prime minister allegedly said the government was planning to scrap the licence fee and replace it with a Netflix-style subscription model.

BBC political editors are often moved to senior presenting jobs well ahead of general elections, enabling their successors to settle into the role. Nick Robinson, Ms Kuenssberg’s predecessor, is now one of Today’s five regular presenters.

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