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The former ITN reporter was accused of using “language that was hugely irresponsible and unfounded” after she said the Conservative Government was forced into cuts as the UK had “no money left”. Mr Sunak’s one-year spending review, saw the Chancellor warn the House of Commons the nation was in an “economic emergency” as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, with the challenges “only just beginning”. Within his announcement, Mr Sunak said for public sector workers outside of the NHS there would be a pay freeze, as the UK attempted to lessen its borrowing forecasts.
The MP for Richmond also refused to rule out tax hikes, as borrowing in the UK hit the highest recorded level in the country’s post-war history.
Dissecting the review, Ms Kuenssberg described the public borrowing as “absolutely eye-wateringly enormous”, claiming it was like “the credit card, the national mortgage – everything absolutely maxed out”.
Yet her comments on the BBC’s Politics Live sparked outrage among economics experts, such as Frances Coppola, who said reporters such as Ms Kuenssberg “need to be educated” to report basic economics.
She said: “When the BBC continually broadcasts economic nonsense it is hardly surprising that people know little about economics.
“The state broadcaster has a responsibility to educate and inform. It is failing to do so.”
Ms Coppola also claimed Ms Kuennsberg’s remarks regarding credit cards and mortgages were “nonsense”.
But Ms Kuenssberg is likely to be unfazed by such a stinging attack from critics, as she once explained that people who threaten and abuse her online for carrying out her role within the BBC were “trying to silence me”.
Ms Kuenssberg, in conversation with the then-outgoing director of BBC News James Harding, admitted when she started her career she “didn’t aspire to have the finger pointed at me”.
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Three years ago, when she made the comments, Ms Kuenssberg was forced to have a personal body guard when covering the Labour Party conference – such was the anger she faced over “bias allegations”.
But she said that politics was a “tough business”, adding: “No matter how unpleasant and personal it might be, it is not as bad as what other journalists face around the world in much more difficult circumstances.”
During her career with the BBC, Ms Kuenssberg has faced a series of allegations surrounding claims she had been biased in her reporting against both Labour and the Conservative Party.
In the same year as the UK voted to leave the EU, Ms Kuenssberg saw a petition launched calling for her dismissal.
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On that occasion, Labour and supporters of then-leader Jeremy Corbyn claimed she had been biased against the party during the local elections.
However, the petition was later withdrawn by website 38 degrees due to concerns that it had become a “focal point for sexist and hateful abuse made towards Laura Kuenssberg”.
The claims continued to follow Ms Kuenssberg right up until last year’s general election.
Some members of the public attacked her online after she shared a link to the personal blog of the Government’s then-chief strategist Dominic Cummings.
Critics said by sharing it, Mr Cummings’ views were seen by the public unadulterated.
But more recently, it was her analysis of Mr Sunak’s spending review that saw critics from both sides of the political spectrum take aim at Ms Kuenssberg, who is the BBC’s first female political editor.
She said of the review: “If you think about the debate we had really all the way through from the late noughties all the way through to the 2015 election, it was defined by ‘how is the country going to pay back what we had to borrow in the credit crisis?’.
“This is that, and some, okay?
“This is the credit card, the national mortgage, everything absolutely maxxed out. Enormous levels of the country basically being in the red.”
She added it was “the beginning of the economic emergency”, with “some ministers worried that there are MPs and members of the public, who just haven’t really absorbed yet what the scale of the economic knock here is”.
Among other critics were Jonathan Portes, a professor of economics at King’s College London, who said: “Anyone making claims that we ‘can’t afford’ to support jobs and families during and after the pandemic, that there is ‘no money left’, that we’ve ‘maxed out the nation’s credit card’, [or] that we’re ‘loading debt onto our children’, is talking economically illiterate nonsense.”
And Chris Marsh, a former economist at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said Kuenssberg’s “language [was] hugely irresponsible and unfounded”.
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