THE early favourite to replace Laura Kuenssberg as BBC political editor has dropped out of the race citing “personal reasons”.

Vicki Young, who currently serves as the broadcaster’s deputy political editor, immediately emerged as a top pick to take over Kuenssberg’s position when her upcoming departure was announced last year.

Young, who previously served as chief political correspondent, has spent more than 15 years at the corporation after starting her career at BBC Wales.

Having served the broadcaster for seven General Elections, it was thought that Young’s experience would stand her in good stead for the top job.

The BBC was also looking to bring in another woman to replace Kuenssberg, according to Politico.

The National:

But on Sunday afternoon, Young (above) indicated that this is not her time to become political editor.

“Been getting lots of nice messages about #BBC Political Editor job so wanted to let you all know that for personal reasons I won’t be applying,” she tweeted. “But look forward to supporting whoever gets this incredible role.”

It is understood that Vicki Young’s husband is being treated for cancer.

Young’s announcement prompted kind messages from fellow senior journalists, including Mirror political editor Pippa Crerar who called her the “one of the best in the business”.

Channel 4’s Krishnan Guru-Murthy added that it was a “shame”, telling the journalist: “Have been saying how good you’d be.”

The National:

With Young out, the race to become BBC political editor is narrowing. Among the favourites now are Jon Sopel (above), the corporation’s former North America editor who has recently returned to Britain, current BBC diplomatic correspondent James Landale, media editor Amol Rajan and Newcast host Adam Fleming.

The change in political editor will come at a difficult time for the BBC, with Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries suggesting this weekend that the next announcement about the BBC licence fee “will be the last”.

She indicated she is keen to look at setting up a new funding model for the BBC – at the same time as Boris Johnson was rumoured to be setting out red meat policies for his supporters in an effort to win back trust amid partygate.

Various reports say Dorries is expected to announce later this week that the licence fee will be kept at the current rate of £159 until April 2024. The Telegraph also reports that a “new funding model” is expected to be found by 2027 when the Royal Charter is due to be renewed.

Shadow culture secretary Lucy Powell hit out over the news, telling Times Radio on Monday: “We’ve just got to recognise what it is that we are getting for that payment – which is actually incredibly cheap, even when you compare it to many of the commercial competitors out there – what you get as value, because we all pay in a small amount, what the BBC is able to do.”

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“Let’s not get away from the fact that this so-called announcement, which was on Twitter yesterday, which is effectively the end of the BBC as we know it, a huge policy announcement, is nothing more than a really obvious, pathetic distraction from a Prime Minister and a Government who has run out of road and whose leadership is hanging by a thread.”

The annual BBC licence payment normally changes on April 1 each year and is set by the UK Government, who announced in 2016 that it would rise in line with inflation for five years from April 1 2017. It is reported to be worth around £3.2 billion to the BBC.

The corporation has previously come under fire over the abolition of free TV licences for all over-75s, with a grace period on payment because of the Covid-19 pandemic having ended on July 31.

Only those who receive pension credit do not have to pay the annual sum.