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Cabinet profile: Nicky Morgan returns to top table after being culled by May

It was during her two-year stint as education secretary under David Cameron that Mrs Morgan really made her mark.

Nicky Morgan (Jonathan Brady/PA)
Nicky Morgan (Jonathan Brady/PA)

The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport brief is an expansive one – but it is likely its new secretary of state Nicky Morgan has already got an eye on a particular element of it.

Last year, at the height of the furore over the future of Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs), Ms Morgan challenged the then-chancellor Philip Hammond: “It is the case, isn’t it, that the Government has prioritised the preservation of jobs in the gambling industry over the addiction of those who suffer from these machines?”

It was during her two-year stint as education secretary under David Cameron that Mrs Morgan really made her mark.

But her reign, cut short under Theresa May, was remembered for a failure to adequately address the big issues – the crippling workload, low pay and perceived poor conditions for teachers, while her ill-fated academisation programme was particularly unpopular with teachers, parents and even non-education unions.

It led to strike action across the country, the culmination of teachers and their supporters simply saying: enough is enough.

Mrs Morgan eventually back-pedalled on academy schools, relaxing the initial commitment and taking the pressure off 17,000 state schools.

She stuck rigidly to her claim that academy status would be the best way to ensure children had access to a world-class education until her final day in office – despite evidence to the contrary.

Yet despite her unpopularity with many – as evidenced by the heckling at her only major education conference appearance of 2016 – there was tacit belief things might be getting better.

There was not the time to find out – she was among those culled in the post-referendum shake-up.

Being appointed education secretary just nine months into your ministerial career is a particularly rapid rocket through the ranks for Mrs Morgan.

After making it into the Commons in 2010 at the second attempt, corporate lawyer Mrs Morgan was quickly earmarked by Mr Cameron as a potential star and was made a ministerial aide within months, a whip in 2012 and a junior Treasury minister last October.

The expenses scandal departure of Maria Miller pushed her further into the public spotlight as she not only moved up the Treasury pecking order as financial secretary but was also handed responsibility for women’s issues.

Controversially, her seat at the Cabinet table was not a full one as the replacement – male – culture secretary Sajid Javid retained overall responsibility for equalities, the first time a women’s minister had been answerable to a male colleague.

Some observers put that down to her decision to vote – on the basis of her Christianity – against same-sex marriage.

Married to architect Jonathan Morgan with whom she has a son, she was born on October 10 1972 and educated at Surbiton High School and St Hugh’s College, Oxford.

While working as a lawyer specialising in mergers and acquisitions, she came within 2,000 votes of causing an upset in Loughborough at the 2005 general election and finished the job in 2010, taking the seat from Labour by a majority of 3,744.

PA

From Belfast Telegraph