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December 20, 2021updated 30 Sep 2022 10:52am

Laura Kuenssberg to step down as BBC political editor after seven years

By Charlotte Tobitt

Laura Kuenssberg will step down as BBC political editor in April after seven years in the high-profile job.

Kuenssberg will stay at the BBC in what was described as a “senior presenting and reporting role”.

The BBC said she will take part in a range of news and current affairs projects across TV, radio and online and that more details will be announced next year.

Kuenssberg 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.”

The BBC said it will begin a “competitive recruitment process” for her successor. Favourites for the job since reports of her imminent departure were leaked to The Guardian have included deputy political editor Vicki Young, Jon Sopel who recently left the North America editor post, and economics editor Faisal Islam.

Speculation has also linked Kuenssberg to the Sunday morning TV politics slot just vacated by Andrew Marr.

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[Read more: Laura Kuenssberg says ‘I would die in a ditch for the impartiality of the BBC’]

BBC 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.”

Kuenssberg became the first woman to hold the BBC political editor role in 2015 and has since led coverage of two UK general elections, the Brexit referendum and its aftermath, and the Government response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

She was a presenter on two of the BBC’s most popular podcasts, Brexitcast and its successor Newscast, and took viewers behind-the-scenes of her reporting on Brexit with two documentaries.

In 2016 Kuenssberg was named Journalist of the Year at Press Gazette’s British Journalism Awards. She said she “would die in a ditch for the impartiality of the BBC” and that because she joined the BBC as a trainee “if you cut me in half I’d have the whole thing through me like a stick of rock”.

At the time, she said of the pace of the job: “The cycle has speeded up so much now that you are dealing with four or five news cycles in one day and that’s been a challenge and an excitement and something that’s been a privilege to witness. People say its five years of politics in one year. It’s not, it’s more than that. It’s five years of politics in ten days.”

She said she viewed her job as “translating what’s happening in Westminster to people up and down the country, which I think is the most important job we have as journalists.

“It’s about checking up on what politicians are doing on behalf of the people who voted them in.”

Kuenssberg has however often been the victim of targeted abuse during her tenure as political editor. In 2016 a petition was put online to have her sacked over claims she was biased towards the Conservative party. The petition was later taken down after it was “hijacked” by “sexist trolls”.

The same year Kuenssberg was booed as she questioned Jeremy Corbyn at a Brexit talk, and during the 2017 Labour party conference Kuenssberg was assigned bodyguards by the BBC after receiving threats online.

Kuenssberg considered quitting social media and felt that people were trying to “silence” her using online abuse. She said in 2018 it is “uglier out there now – it’s like a playground where people want to shout each other down. I don’t read the comments people write about me – it’s not worth it.”

BBC director of news Fran Unsworth, who is also about to step down, 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.

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

Kuenssberg was chief correspondent and presenter on Newsnight before taking on the political editor job. She has spent most of her career at the BBC aside from a stint as ITV News business editor between 2011 and 2014.

After joining the BBC as a trainee journalist in 2000 in Newcastle, she became a political correspondent in 2003 working on programmes including Daily Politics and Today, Breakfast and the News at Ten. She was named chief political correspondent in 2009.

Picture: BBC/iPlayer

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