BBC’s Kuenssberg was told the Queen supported Brexit
Reporting rules prevented political editor from using referendum story
THE Scottish journalist who led the BBC’s political coverage of the EU referendum has revealed that, during the campaign, she learned of claims that the Queen had supported Brexit.
Laura Kuenssberg, the Corporation’s political editor, said that, like The Sun newspaper, she was also told that Her Majesty supported the move.
But under the BBC’s strict reporting rules she was unable to report it because she could not find another credible source to back it up.
The tabloid caused a storm when it published the claim on its front page under the headline “Queen backs Brexit”.
The story caused a major stir, leading to a successful complaint to press regulator Ipso by Buckingham Palace, which said it was “misleading”.
Nonetheless, The Sun stood by its story, saying it had two sources for the claim the Queen had “let rip” at Nick Clegg, the then Deputy Prime Minister, about Europe at a lunch at Windsor Castle.
Mr Clegg later named Brexiter Michael Gove as the source, but the Scot has never confirmed the allegation.
Ms Kuenssberg has now said her “jaw hit the floor” when an unnamed contact told her that the Queen had told a private lunch that she could not see why Britain could not simply leave the EU.
“In a casual chat with one of my contacts, they said: ‘Do you know what?
“‘At some point this is going to come out, and I’m telling you now and I don’t know if the BBC would touch it, but the Queen told people at a private lunch that she thinks that we should leave the EU’,” Ms Kuenssberg told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
“Apparently at this lunch, she said: ‘I don’t see why we can’t just get out. What’s the problem?’ My jaw hit the floor. Very sadly, I only hadonesource.Ispentthenextfew days trying to prove it. I couldn’t find the evidence.
“Lo and behold, a couple of months later, someone else did. Of course, then ensued a huge row between that newspaper and the Palace over what had really been said or not said.”
She added: “There were lots of moments in the referendum campaign but for me that was one when my jaw did hit the floor. Very frustratingly, the story did eventually emerge, whether it was true or not.”
The Queen is said to have been been “disappointed” that she had not received more detail from Theresa May on the Brexit plans during the Prime Minister’s trip to Balmoral in the summer.
Meanwhile, Lord King, the former Bank of England Governor, said the UK needed to feel “more self-confident” about its prospects outside the EU.
It came as Wilbur Ross, Donald Trump’s Commerce Secretary designate, said that Brexit represented a “God-given opportunity” for other countries to take business from the UK.
Elsewhere, pro-Brexit group Change Britain said the economy could benefit by £24 billion a year by leaving the single market and the customs union.