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Morgan to carry on as Culture Secretary despite standing down as MP

Downing Street said Nicky Morgan would be made a life peer and take questions in the House of Lords.

Nicky Morgan is to continue as Culture Secretary despite standing down as an MP (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)
Nicky Morgan is to continue as Culture Secretary despite standing down as an MP (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

By Gavin Cordon and Harriet Line, PA Political Staff

Nicky Morgan is to stay on as Culture Secretary despite standing down as an MP at the general election, Downing Street announced.

No 10 said that she would be made a life peer and would take questions in the House of Lords.

Now Baroness Morgan, she cited abuse and the impact being an MP had on her family life among the reasons she would not stand for re-election this year.

She tweeted: “Well it turns out that leaving the Cabinet is harder than leaving the EU! Am delighted to continue as @DCMS Secretary of State as the PM focuses on delivering our mandate in the vital first weeks of this new Government.”

Reports suggested the Remainer, who had represented Loughborough for the Conservatives since 2010, will only keep the job temporarily until a wider reshuffle early next year.

In a letter to the local Tory association in October, she wrote: “After nearly a decade as Loughborough’s MP and over 15 years as a local campaigner here I have made the very difficult decision that I can’t commit to another 5 year term and now is the time for me to stand aside and be at home far more.”

She continued to speak for the Government during the campaign.

Her appointment drew criticism from the opposition benches, who branded the move “disgraceful”.

Labour MP Chris Bryant, a former shadow culture secretary, tweeted: “It stinks. You abandon your constituents, eschew the tough work of representing a constituency but remain in the Cabinet. That really is two fingers up to democracy.”

His fellow Labour MP Jo Stevens said: “Absolutely disgraceful that we in the @HouseofCommons won’t be able to scrutinise, question & challenge her on @DCMS performance.”

And the Liberal Democrat’s culture spokeswoman Layla Moran said: “This is why need reform of the House of Lords. @LibDems would create an elected upper house where this kind of sycophancy wouldn’t be rewarded.”

Earlier, Boris Johnson appointed Simon Hart as the Welsh Secretary in a mini-reshuffle in the wake of his general election triumph.

The MP for Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire replaces Alan Cairns, who was forced to stand down over his links to an aide accused of sabotaging a rape trial.

Mr Hart was previously a junior minister at the Cabinet Office and his promotion marks his first entry to the Cabinet.

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson alongside the newly elected Conservative MPs at the Houses of Parliament in Westminster (Leon Neal/PA)

The reshuffle announcements came as Mr Johnson posed for a photo with the new intake of Tory MPs.

Mr Johnson is expected to carry out a wider reshuffle of his top team in February, with reports that up to a third of his top team could go.

The Prime Minister told Tory MPs gathering at Westminster ahead of the new Parliament sitting for the first time on Tuesday they must now justify the trust of the voters who put them there.

Speaking at a drinks reception, he said the election result – which saw the Conservatives take a swathe of previously rock solid Labour seats – had changed the party “for the better”.

Former Brexit secretary David Davis said: “The substantive thing that he had to say was that we have to justify their trust. He got a lot of cheers for that.

“He said it has changed our party – and for the better.”

The Government is set to bring back the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal before Parliament this as it begins its push to take Britain out of the European Union next month.

The Withdrawal Agreement Bill (WAB) will be brought before the Commons on Friday – and could receive its first reading and be voted on at second reading in one day, if the Speaker agrees.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman told a Westminster briefing: “We plan to start the process before Christmas and will do so in the proper constitutional way in discussion with the Speaker.”

The Government will try to push the WAB through its final Commons stages in January, and will hope the Bill then clears the Lords quickly to allow the UK to leave the EU on January 31 with a deal in place.

However, approving the legislation will not mean the Brexit saga is over. The UK will remain in the EU until at least the end of 2020 during the implementation period.

This time will be used by Brussels and London to hammer out a trade deal and decide on their future relationship on subjects such as security.

But EU figures have been highly sceptical this can be sorted within the year, with chief negotiator Michel Barnier saying the timetable was “unrealistic”.

The Queen will formally open Parliament on Thursday when she sets out the Government’s legislative programme during a slimmed-down State Opening.

PA

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