Richard Quest on Anchoring Brexit: ‘It Might Be the Longest Program I’ve Ever Done’

By Mark Joyella 

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By the time Richard Quest wraps his workday Friday night (he’ll appear on Anderson Cooper 360 at 8 p.m. ET), Quest will have been covering the British vote to leave the European Union for nearly 30 hours, with nothing more than a short two-hour nap Friday afternoon.

From Thursday night when the polls closed to Friday morning, when the fallout was being felt around the world, Quest and co-anchor Hala Gorani led CNN’s rolling Brexit coverage. “I did 13 hours. I think it might be the longest program I’ve ever done,” Quest told TVNewser. “It was a program that I was privileged to be able to do, and it was a broadcast that is probably one of the top three of my career.”

Quest credited everyone from the graphics team to his co-anchor (“Hala is just a dream to co-anchor with”), and CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, who reported from Parliament. “Christiane was magnificence,” he said.

Quest at Kings CollegeLike many journalists covering the Euro vote, Quest–who had traveled to the U.K. in CNN’s “Brexit camper van” over the last week, talking to voters–thought he knew how the evening would unfold. “The first hour and a half we’re thinking, ‘This is going to be Remain.'” But early returns hinted voters were about to send a huge message. “Before long, you start to realize something very different is taking place.”

Quest told TVNewser he remembers looking at the clock at 1 a.m., and when he looked again five hours had passed. “I have no idea what happened in those five hours in the middle,” he said. As Quest anchored, viewers sent him messages on Twitter, some insisting he was obviously in support of a Brexit, while others felt just as certain he had voted to Remain. “It’s addictive to look at Twitter during a broadcast,” he said. “It’s (also) very damaging to look at Twitter during a broadcast.”

Quest won’t say which side he supported. “I have a firm view, I never reveal how I voted,” he said, because of the “sanctity and secrecy” of the ballot. “People die for that.”