Laura Kuenssberg on Boris Johnson: what did ex BBC journalist say about outgoing UK prime minister in Vogue?

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The former BBC political editor said that she was ‘shocked’ when minister after minister withdrew their support for the Prime Minister

In a new interview with Vogue, Laura Kuenssberg, former BBC political editor and soon to be Andrew Marr’s replacement, said that outgoing Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s “personality and behaviour” was the reason behind his downfall.

Kuenssberg, 46, likened Johnson’s demise to a game of jenga, explaining that, when it eventually crashes, “it crashes really quickly and really messily”.

This is what you need to know.

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Who is Laura Keunssberg?

Keunssberg is a Scottish journalist who was the first woman to hold the role of political editor at the BBC when she succeeded Nick Johnson in 2015.

She was born in Rome on 8 August 1976 and grew up in Glasgow where she attended the private girls’ school Laurel Bank School.

Keunssberg went on to study history at the University in Edinburgh, graduating with a first class honours MA degree before then spending a year studying at Georgetown University in Washington, DC.

Journalist Laura Kuenssberg speaks to camera after then-Prime Minister Theresa May delivered her speech on the final day of the Conservative Party annual conference at the Manchester Central Convention Centre in Manchester, northwest England, on October 4, 2017 (Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)Journalist Laura Kuenssberg speaks to camera after then-Prime Minister Theresa May delivered her speech on the final day of the Conservative Party annual conference at the Manchester Central Convention Centre in Manchester, northwest England, on October 4, 2017 (Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)
Journalist Laura Kuenssberg speaks to camera after then-Prime Minister Theresa May delivered her speech on the final day of the Conservative Party annual conference at the Manchester Central Convention Centre in Manchester, northwest England, on October 4, 2017 (Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images) | AFP via Getty Images

Whilst in America, Keunssberg interned at Meet the Press, the NBC News political programme.

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She joined BBC North East and Cumbria in 2000 and then in 2009 was appointed chief political correspondent for the BBC.

Keunssberg then left for ITV News for the role of business editor in 2011, and in 2013 began co-hosting News at Ten with Alastair Stewart.

Later in 2013, it was announced that Keunssberg would be returning to the BBC as chief correspondent and a presenter of Newsnight, officially joining the team in February 2014.

She held the role of political editor at the BBC from July 2015 until May 2022. It was announced in March earlier this year that Keunssberg would be replacing Andrew Marr in a full time capacity, starting in September 2022.

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Laura Kuenssberg waits for then Prime Minister Theresa May to deliver a statement outside 10 Downing Street in central London on June 9, 2017 as results from a snap general election show the Conservatives have lost their majority (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images)Laura Kuenssberg waits for then Prime Minister Theresa May to deliver a statement outside 10 Downing Street in central London on June 9, 2017 as results from a snap general election show the Conservatives have lost their majority (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images)
Laura Kuenssberg waits for then Prime Minister Theresa May to deliver a statement outside 10 Downing Street in central London on June 9, 2017 as results from a snap general election show the Conservatives have lost their majority (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images) | AFP via Getty Images

In an interview with Radio Times back in 2019, Kuenssberg said that she “didn’t really want to do politics at all”, stating that she “started off on health and crime”.

Speaking about being the political editor at the BBC, she said: “If, when I started out, someone had told me the political editor would be a) Scottish, b) a woman, and c) got the job when they were my age, I’m not sure I’d have thought that very likely.”

Kuenssberg is married to James Kelly, a management consultant, whom she met when they were both studying at Edinburgh University.

What did she say about Boris Johnson in the Vogue interview?

Speaking about outgoing Prime Minister Boris Johnson in the interview, when asked what was going through his head as minister after minister resigned over an exceptionally chaotic 36 hours, Kuenssberg said: “I think it’s clear that until very late that last night, there was a real sense of denial.”

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Photo issued by Vogue of Laura Kuenssberg, who appears in the September issue of British Vogue (Photo: PA/Paul Wetherell/British Vogue)Photo issued by Vogue of Laura Kuenssberg, who appears in the September issue of British Vogue (Photo: PA/Paul Wetherell/British Vogue)
Photo issued by Vogue of Laura Kuenssberg, who appears in the September issue of British Vogue (Photo: PA/Paul Wetherell/British Vogue) | PA/Paul Wetherell/British Vogue

She added that she was “shocked” at the “pace and scale of the moves against Johnson”, however she wasn’t surprised, stating: “It’s always brutal at the end.”

Kuenssberg said that his eventual downfall was always going to come down to “his personality and behaviour” and compared it to a game of Jenga, saying: “One piece comes out, and then another, and it get wobblier, then it stabilises, but then when it actually crashes it crashes really quickly and really messily.”

She said that the atmosphere at The Spectator magazine’s summer party, which was held in the wake of Johnson’s resignation, was “very hot, very wild and very bizarre”.

Boris Johnson, at the time London Mayor, ducks below tree branches while being interviewed by Laura Kuenssberg on May 1, 2015 (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)Boris Johnson, at the time London Mayor, ducks below tree branches while being interviewed by Laura Kuenssberg on May 1, 2015 (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Boris Johnson, at the time London Mayor, ducks below tree branches while being interviewed by Laura Kuenssberg on May 1, 2015 (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images) | Getty Images

Kuenssberg explained: “It was like being in a tropical jungle, not just because of the heat, but because they’d slain the beast who’d been pushing them all around for so long.

“And the next generation was prowling around, trying to build new alliances and grab the plumpest, juiciest fruit for themselves.”

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