Laura Kuenssberg: why is she leaving the BBC, where is she going and who will replace her as political editor?

Laura Kuenssberg has confirmed she is stepping down from her high profile role with the BBC and will be replaced by Chris Mason as political editor

The BBC’s political editor Laura Kuenssberg is stepping down from her role.

In October it was reported that the 45-year-old journalist was negotiating an exit from her role of the past six years as part of a major reshuffle of the BBC’s on-air staff, which she has now confirmed.

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

Kuenssberg’s announcement comes hot on the heels of the departure of another high profile BBC star, Andrew Marr, who hosted his final show on Sunday (20 December).

She will leave her role next Easter to take up a “senior presenting and reporting position” across the BBC that will take in TV, radio and online.

Boris Johnson interviewed by Laura Kuenssberg in 2015 (Photo: Getty)
Boris Johnson interviewed by Laura Kuenssberg in 2015 (Photo: Getty)
Boris Johnson interviewed by Laura Kuenssberg in 2015 (Photo: Getty)

What has Laura Kuenssberg said?

Announcing her departure, 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.”

Writing on Twitter, she said: “After nearly 7 years, in April I'm moving on from best daily reporting job + the most wonderful team in the business. It's been an honour and an amazing ride - more to come in 2022! With love + thanks to all at @BBCPolitics.”

She added: “Huge thanks to all the viewers, listeners and readers who've shared their stories over the years... I'm taking a break for Christmas, but there will be PLENTY of news to come over the next few weeks and while I'm still in the chair until April!”

What has the BBC said?

The BBC’s 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.

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

Who is Laura Kuenssberg?

Kuenssberg succeeded Nick Robinson as political editor at the BBC in 2015.

She was the first woman to hold the high-profile role and had also worked for ITV News as Business Editor and as a chief correspondent on Newsnight.

Kuenssberg has been a contentious figure during her tenure as political editor, a time which included the Brexit referendum and two general elections.

She faced accusations of bias from across the political spectrum through the UK’s departure from the EU, and amid concerns for her safety was forced to attend the Autumn party conference season with a bodyguard.

Kuenssberg was born in Italy in 1976 to Sally and Nick Kuenssberg.

She grew up in Glasgow and attended the University of Edinburgh before doing a journalism course in Washington DC.

Kuenssberg joined the industry in 2000 and worked her way up to one of the biggest roles in journalism.

She is married to management consultant James Kelly, who also studied at Edinburgh, and the couple have no children.

Who will replace Laura Kuenssberg as BBC political editor?

Chris Mason will replace Laura Kuenssberg, it has been confirmed.

The Yorkshire-born broadcaster, 41, who is anchor of Radio 4’s Any Questions? programme, said: “What a tremendous privilege to take on what, for me, is the most extraordinary job in British broadcasting and journalism.”

One of the favourites to step into Kuenssberg’s shoes was Jon Sopel. He has been the BBC’s North America but recently returned to the UK, sparking rumours that he is in line to take over - although he did say he plans to take a “long break” to write a book.

He is a well-known face through his coverage of Donald Trump and US politics, and co-presented the Americast podcast with Emily Maitlis last year.

Another bookies’ favourite was Vicki Young, currently the BBC’s deputy political editor, who is widely respected at the corporation and in Westminster. There is reportedly an appetite in the BBC that the role stays with a female journalist.

Among the other favourites for the new vacancy were Amol Rajan, the BBC’s media editor and a presenter on the Today programme, Faisal Islam, the BBC economics editor who was previously at Sky News and Channel 4, and Alex Forsyth, who has worked as the BBC’s home affairs correspondent, education correspondent and Middle East correspondent.

Other names in the frame included BBC diplomatic correspondent James Landale, Newsnight’s policy editor Lewis Goodall and political editor Nick Watt, former Scotland editor Sarah Smith, and Beth Rigby and Sam Coates from Sky News.

How much is Laura Kuenssberg paid?

The BBC’s annual report into its highest earners showed that Kuenssberg’s salary was £290,000 in 2020.

It was a £40,000 pay increase from the previous year.

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