A senior Conservative MP has said that if Laura Kuenssberg steps down as the BBC’s political editor, the corporation should consider replacing her with somebody “much more pro-Brexit”.
Julian Knight, who is the chair of the digital, culture, media and sport committee, which monitors the BBC, has reportedly said that if the top political job became available, the corporation should “throw the net wider” and consider hiring a journalist who supported Brexit.
The Guardian reported on Thursday that Kuenssberg is in talks to step down after six years in the role and become a presenter on Radio 4’s Today programme. Jon Sopel, the BBC’s outgoing US editor, is among those tipped to replace her.
Knight, who is MP for Solihull and a former journalist for the Independent, told the Telegraph that if Kuenssberg were to stand down it “will be a really sad loss to the role, she brings real insight”.
But, if she were to leave the position, he said it “would be an opportunity for the BBC, maybe, to look at journalists who had a much more pro-Brexit [approach]”.
He added: “In front of our committee, [BBC director general] Tim Davie could not name any senior person he had employed during his watch who supported Brexit. Maybe this is a chance to correct that.”
The departure of Kuessberg, who was the BBC’s first female political editor, from the position is yet to be confirmed and the broadcaster insists the role is not vacant.
But other journalists tipped to replace her include Faisal Islam, the economics editor, and more junior political correspondents Vicki Young, Adam Fleming and Chris Mason.
In 2017, Knight, who backed remain, coordinated a letter to senior BBC figures accusing the broadcaster of failing in its duty to be impartial over Brexit. The letter said the BBC characterised Britain as xenophobic and put too much of its focus on regretful leave voters.
The letter was signed by 76 people including 60 Tory MPs, two Conservative peers and three Labour MPs.
The BBC declined to comment. A spokesperson for the corporation told the Guardian on Thursday: “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.”