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BBC shake-up

Kuenssberg ‘in talks’ to step down from BBC post

Subject of speculation: Laura Kuenssberg (pic: Terry Murden)

BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg is in talks to leave her post as part of a major reshuffle of senior on-air staff, according to sources in Westminster.

Jon Sopel is also stepping down as North America editor and returning to the UK, possibly as Ms Kuenssberg’s successor. BBC Scotland editor Sarah Smith is being tipped to move to Washington.

A replacement for Ms Smith at Pacific Quay in Glasgow would require sensitive handling in view of regular criticism of the corporation from the SNP government.

Ms Kuenssberg, 45, succeeded Nick Robinson six years ago and it is likely she will find herself sharing presenting duties with him in the Radio Four Today programme studio, according to reports.

The daughter of Scottish businessman Nick, she has endured a febrile period in British politics with journalists, particularly BBC journalists, caught in the crossfire over Brexit and the handling of the Covid pandemic.

The corporation has regularly defended Ms Kuenssberg, who earns the £264,999 year, from accusations of bias.

In 2017, the BBC hired a bodyguard to accompany Ms Kuenssberg to the Labour Party Conference as it was believed her safety was under threat.

At Labour’s 2019 General Election manifesto launch, Ms Kuenssberg was booed as she asked a question.

Sarah Smith - BBC

Sarah Smith: possibly heading across the Atlantic

Ms Smith, the daughter of former Labour leader John Smith, was made the BBC’s first Scotland editor in November 2015 and has also undertaken stints on the Today programme.

She too has faced criticism, over on-air errors.

There is also talk that GB News launch director John McAndrew, who resigned in a dispute over its strategy, could replace Fran Unsworth as the next head of BBC News.

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