Nicky Morgan

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For the English footballer, see Nicky Morgan (footballer).
The Right Honourable
Nicky Morgan
Nicky Morgan, at Policy Exchange, cropped.jpg
Secretary of State for Education
In office
15 July 2014 – 14 July 2016
Prime Minister David Cameron
Preceded by Michael Gove
Succeeded by Justine Greening
Minister for Women and Equalities
In office
15 July 2014 – 14 July 2016
Prime Minister David Cameron
Preceded by Sajid Javid (Equalities)
Herself (Women)
Succeeded by Justine Greening
Minister for Women
In office
9 April 2014 – 15 July 2014
Prime Minister David Cameron
Preceded by Maria Miller (Women and Equalities)
Succeeded by Herself (Women and Equalities)
Financial Secretary to the Treasury
In office
9 April 2014 – 15 July 2014
Prime Minister David Cameron
Preceded by Sajid Javid
Succeeded by David Gauke
Economic Secretary to the Treasury
In office
7 October 2013 – 9 April 2014
Prime Minister David Cameron
Preceded by Sajid Javid
Succeeded by Andrea Leadsom
Member of Parliament
for Loughborough
Assumed office
6 May 2010
Preceded by Andy Reed
Majority 9,183 (17.6%)
Personal details
Born Nicola Ann Griffith
(1972-10-01) 1 October 1972 (age 44)
London, England, UK
Political party Conservative
Spouse(s) Jonathan Morgan
Children 1 son
Alma mater St Hugh's College, Oxford
Religion Christianity
Website Official website

Nicola Ann "Nicky" Morgan (née Griffith; born 1 October 1972) is a British Conservative Party politician who has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for Loughborough since 2010 and was the Secretary of State for Education and Minister for Women and Equalities from July 2014 to July 2016.[1] She was removed from these positions on 14 July 2016.[2]

She previously served as Economic Secretary to the Treasury from October 2013 to April 2014 and as Financial Secretary to the Treasury from April to July 2014.

Early life[edit]

Morgan was born in Kingston upon Thames, London. She grew up in Surbiton and attended Surbiton High School before studying Jurisprudence at St Hugh's College, Oxford. She twice stood unsuccessfully for President of the Oxford University Conservative Association, on the second occasion being defeated by Daniel Hannan, later a prominent Conservative Member of the European Parliament. She was also involved in the Oxford Union Society. She was elected Treasurer, but failed in her bid for its Presidency.

She qualified as a solicitor in 1994 and worked as a corporate lawyer at Travers Smith specialising in mergers and acquisitions before taking on an in-house counsel role advising on corporate law matters.[3]

Political career[edit]

Morgan joined the Conservative Party in 1989 and was the Chair of Wessex Young Conservatives from 1995–97 and Vice-chair, Battersea Conservatives from 1997–99.[4] She unsuccessfully contested the Islington South and Finsbury constituency in the 2001 general election.

Morgan was first selected for the Loughborough seat in 2004 and in the 2005 general election achieved a 5% Labour to Conservative swing compared to a national average of 3.1%, making Loughborough the most marginal seat in the East Midlands. Morgan was reselected for the Loughborough seat in 2006.

Member of Parliament[edit]

In the 2010 general election, Morgan was elected as the MP for Loughborough on a swing of 5.5% with a majority of 3,744 votes.[5] She made her maiden speech in a debate on Economic Affairs and Work and Pensions on 8 June 2010.[6]

In June 2010, she was selected as a Conservative member of the Business, Innovation and Skills Committee but was replaced following promotion in September to Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Universities and Science Minister, David Willetts.[7]

She was appointed assistant whip in September 2012,[8] and Economic Secretary to the Treasury on 7 October 2013.[9]

Minister for Women and Equalities[edit]

In 2013, Morgan voted against the introduction of same-sex marriage in England and Wales, arguing that marriage could only be between a man and a woman.[10]

Following the resignation of Maria Miller from the Cabinet, she became Minister for Women (attending Cabinet) on 9 April 2014 and was appointed a Privy Councillor.[11] However, the equalities brief went to Sajid Javid, the culture secretary.[12]

The separation of the equalities portfolio was seen by some as a response to Morgan's vote against the government's proposal to introduce legislation allowing same-sex marriages. This led to accusations that Morgan was merely "minister for straight women".[10][13] On her promotion, she retained her post as Minister for Women and also added the equalities brief to it, thus also becoming Minister for Women and Equalities.[14] However, Downing Street announced that responsibility for implementing the rest of the changes to same-sex marriage would be driven by Nick Boles, a new education minister who is himself gay and is in a civil partnership.[13]

In October 2014, she clarified her views saying she had previously voted against gay marriage as she believed her constituents were opposed to it. However she would now support it and she wished "supporters of same-sex marriage had been more vocal about their position before vote in July last year."[15] She expressed support for Ireland's 'yes' vote on same-sex marriage in May 2015.[16]

Secretary of State for education[edit]

Morgan was appointed Secretary of State for Education in Prime Minister David Cameron's reshuffle in July 2014, replacing Michael Gove.[17]

In September 2014, Morgan was questioned by Parliament's Education Select Committee following a report by London University's Institute of Education on conflicts of interest between academies and their financial backers. The report failed to find evidence that academies were undertaking competitive tendering or that they were being properly monitored by the Education Funding Agency (EFA). It also said that previous reports had also questioned the capability of the EFA to fund and finance academies. Graham Stuart, chairman of the committee, acknowledged that there were loopholes but said the public needed to be sure that sponsors acted exclusively in the interests of their school.[18]

Following concerns from business leaders that children were leaving school without good teamwork skills, Morgan stated that character development is as important as academic achievement. In December 2014, she announced £3.5 million of funding to promote the building of "grit" and "resilience". Some schemes were likely to involve ex-servicemen teaching pupils – particularly those with behaviour problems – the importance of discipline. The Daily Telegraph reported potential concerns about maths, English and science being effectively downgraded.[19]

Morgan was removed from her position of Education Secretary on 14 July 2016 under the new Prime Minister Theresa May.[2]

Criticism by the UK Statistics Authority[edit]

In December 2014, Morgan was advised by Sir Andrew Dilnot, chair of the UK Statistics Authority, that she should "reconsider her comments" and possibly "take advice" about misleading information given to Parliament. Morgan had claimed that one third of children under the previous Labour government had left primary school unable to read or write. In fact 91% of 11-year-old pupils tested in May 2010 had reached at least level 3 of Key Stage 2 – defined as being able to "read a range of texts fluently and accurately" – whilst 83% achieved level 4, the expected level. The BBC noting that 64% achieved expected results in all subjects tested suggests Morgan had both misunderstood official literacy level definitions and confused literacy results with expected overall attainment levels.[20]

Relationship with Gove[edit]

In an interview with The Observer in December 2014, Morgan – who has been engaged in a long running "battle with Michael Gove" over policy – expounded her views on her relationship with her predecessor.[21] Her friends have denied that she is subservient to Gove,[21] whilst Morgan herself has rejected Gove's attitude to the educational establishment, which he had described as 'a left wing blob.'[22] Morgan told The Observer that although Gove's combative style alienated teachers, she fully supports his key policies: the introduction of free schools and the expansion of academies.[21]

Writing in The Times the following day, Sir Anthony Seldon, headmaster of Wellington College and a key Gove ally, claimed that Morgan knew little about schools and had accepted the education portfolio despite an initial lack of interest. She needed more radical policies to get schools to develop pupils who were "rounded, resilient citizens" but her "probable departure at the election" meant she was unlikely to make any sort of mark.[23]

Row over 2014 school league tables[edit]

The 2014 school league tables published in January 2015 excluded some results from fee-paying schools using International GCSEs (IGCSEs) which Morgan regards as not rigorous or challenging enough. The schools have exactly the opposite view but the move placed many of them, including Eton, near the bottom of the tables. Writing to The Daily Telegraph, Simon Lebus, the chief executive of Cambridge assessment, said Morgan had been poorly advised and that admission tutors agreed that the exams were the best preparation for university. He said the Department of Education should encourage competition – a race to the top between the two exam types – rather than "trying to rig the race". Morgan appealed to the fee-paying schools to return to conventional GCSEs.[24]

Religious education in schools[edit]

In December 2015, Morgan declared that a High court ruling that religious teaching should be pluralistic, and that therefore it was unlawful to exclude teaching about atheism and humanism, should be ignored as UK religious traditions are mainly Christian. The Independent also noted that both she and her department had also ignored the Commission on Religion and Belief in British Public Life report that Britain is "no longer predominantly Christian."[25] The British Humanist Association, which supported the legal battle against Morgan, called Morgan's decision to simply ignore the judgment against her "an affront to democracy".[26]

Specialist school for the deaf[edit]

In December 2015, British Deaf Association chairman Dr Terry Riley expressed regret at the closing of the Royal School for Deaf Children in Margate which closed despite an appeal to Morgan.[27][28] However, an inspection the previous month by the Care Quality Commission had uncovered what the inspectors called "shocking examples of institutionalised failings and abuse" at the nearby Westgate College for Deaf People for students aged 16 and over, which was run by the same educational trust. The trust running the schools subsequently went into administration.[29]

Conversion of all schools to academies[edit]

In March 2016, Morgan told a NASUWT conference that the government had made significant improvements to the education system and would not back down. Every school would become an academy by 2022 and she invited the unions to help shape the reforms. NASUWT General secretary, Chris Keates asked her to listen to the concerns raised.[30] Her proposal was also criticised by her own backbenchers as likely to remove parental and local authority involvement, force small rural schools would have to close, reduce accountability and cost more than the £1.6 billion estimated in the budget. Chair of the 1922 Committee Graham Brady said he would write to Morgan.[31] The plan was dropped days later, except for schools in "underperforming" local authorities.[32]

EU referendum 2016 and Brexit[edit]

Morgan supported the 'Remain' campaign in the 2016 referendum. Following the decision to leave and Cameron's resignation she announced she was considering running for the Conservative party leadership. She said the vote had split the country and parliament couldn't spend the next few years on the single issue of Europe. She wanted a grown up debate on immigration, which included the positive case and not simply problems relating to jobs and housing[33] and criticised Nigel Farage's campaign for “emboldening” racists and bigots.[34] In spite of her stance for Remain in the referendum, Morgan endorsed Leave campaigner Michael Gove as the party leadership candidate on 30 June.[35] In October 2016, the Guardian's Roy Greenslade suggested that the Daily Mail's "savage" "full-frontal assault on ..anyone hopeful of upending the EU referendum vote" -including Morgan whom it described as "wet behind the ears" -was a reflection of its editor Paul Dacre's worries that MPs might reverse or mitigate the vote.[36]

Return to the back benches[edit]

Following Theresa May's policy statement on new grammar schools Morgan joined Sir Michael Wilshaw in saying the changes were a retrograde step and a distraction from 6 years of effort under David Cameron to improve the existing state system via academies and free school reforms.[37]

Constituency issues[edit]

Professor Stephen Fisher of Oxford University, writing for the Higher Education Policy Institute think tank, observed in December 2014 that Loughborough was one of 10 or 11 constituencies where the student vote could affect the outcome. Loughborough was one of several Tory marginals with a student population of more than 13% and he noted Morgan as being at risk of losing her seat in 2015.[38] In the event, Morgan increased her majority achieving a 5.25% swing compared to a −0.3% swing nationally.

In July 2010, Morgan asked the Prime Minister to join her in congratulating Loughborough University Student Union Rag Committee on raising more money on behalf of the Royal British Legion than any other rag in the country.[39] Both agreed it was an example of the Big Society in action.[39]

Student fees[edit]

On 7 November 2010, Morgan appeared on the Politics Show with Lucy Hopkins, Loughborough Students' Union President, to continue an earlier on-campus debate on the tripling of student tuition fees. Morgan agreed costs could be daunting but said student numbers were unsustainable, it was fair to ask people to invest in their own education and people should ask more questions about how courses would improve prospects. Hopkins accepted that the Government had tried to find fair options but said students were taking on "excessive debts" which they would still be paying off when their own children went to university, they had no guarantee of a better job and those from poor homes would either have to choose an affordable university or not attend. In response, Morgan said university wasn't a rite of passage, there were other ways of continuing education and she herself had taken eight years to pay off her debts.[40]

Donations to constituency[edit]

The Guardian also highlighted donations from Paul Mercer, a Conservative activist, former councillor and constituent who runs a local radio campaign on Morgan's behalf. Mercer is known to have worked for a "secretive corporate security firm" with a history of infiltrating and spying on political campaigners and according to The Guardian, he passed confidential legal advice to their opponents.[41]

Attitude towards politics[edit]

In January 2014, speaking at a meeting of the Bright Blue Tory think tank, Morgan said Conservatives must send out an optimistic message and not just "the language of hate" if they were to win the next general election. Her comments were thought to show concern at rightwing backbenchers' criticisms of Cameron on immigration, welfare and the EU though a party source insisted that she was talking about very few people.[42]

Personal life[edit]

Morgan and her husband, architect Jonathan Morgan, have a son, born in January 2008. She has described her "passion for recreational running" on her webpage[43] and in February 2015 a raffle prize of joining Morgan on a 5k run followed by breakfast was offered at the Conservative Party's 'Black and White Ball' fundraiser.[44]


  1. ^ "Ministerial appointments: April 2014" (Press release). 15 July 2014. Retrieved 15 July 2014. 
  2. ^ a b "Theresa May's cabinet: Who's in and who's out?". BBC News. 14 July 2016. Retrieved 14 July 2016. 
  3. ^ "Nicky Morgan". Conservative Party. Retrieved 7 May 2010. 
  4. ^ "Nicky Morgan MP Loughborough, Conservative". BBC:Democracy Live. Retrieved 21 May 2010. 
  5. ^ Isaac Ashe (7 May 2010). "Loughborough seat won by Conservative Nicky Morgan". Loughborough Echo. Retrieved 7 May 2010. 
  6. ^ "House of Commons debates:Speaker Nicky Morgan". theyworkfor 8 June 2010. Retrieved 9 June 2010. 
  7. ^ "New MPs tipped for the top?". BBC News. 15 September 2010. Retrieved 21 November 2010. 
  8. ^ Juliette Jowit and John Burn-Murdoch (5 September 2012). "The new cabinet: no women in Treasury but Boris Johnson's brother on the up". Guardian newspapers. Retrieved 2 July 2013. 
  9. ^ "Nicky Morgan Conservative MP for Loughborough". Retrieved 31 January 2014. 
  10. ^ a b "Loughborough MP Nicky Morgan explains why she voted against allowing gay marriage". Leicester mercury. 14 February 2013. Retrieved 8 March 2015. 
  11. ^ Sean Clare, Anna Browning and Justin Parkinson (9 April 2014). "As it happened: Miller resignation". Retrieved 9 March 2015. 
  12. ^ Prime Minister's Office (April 2014). "Ministerial appointments: April 2014", Government press release, 9 April 2014. Retrieved 19 July 2014
  13. ^ a b Mason, Rowena (July 2014). "Nicky Morgan's gay-marriage stance causes equalities role confusion … again: Education secretary who voted against gay marriage to be equalities minister, but same-sex union policy goes to Nick Boles", The Guardian, 15 July 2014. Retrieved 19 July 2014
  14. ^ Prime Minister's Office (July 2014. "Secretary of State for Education and Minister for Women and Equalities: The Rt Hon Nicky Morgan MP", Government press release, 15 July 2014. Retrieved 19 July 2014
  15. ^ Georgia Graham (29 October 2014). "I have changed my mind on gay marriage, Nicky Morgan says". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 29 October 2014. 
  16. ^ Duffy, Nick. "Politicians welcome victory for same-sex marriage in Ireland". Pink News. Retrieved 24 May 2015. 
  17. ^ As it happened: PM reshuffles cabinet. BBC News. Retrieved 14 July 2014.
  18. ^ Nicola Woolcock (17 September 2014). "Academy sponsors 'cashing in'". Sunday Times. Retrieved 29 October 2014. (subscription required (help)). 
  19. ^ Graeme Paton (16 December 2014). "Nicky Morgan: lessons in character 'just as important' as academic grades". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 17 December 2014. 
  20. ^ "Morgan criticised over use of statistics". BBC News. 19 December 2014. Retrieved 21 December 2014. 
  21. ^ a b c Toby Helm and Ashley Cowburn (6 December 2014). "Education chief fights back in battle with Michael Gove over schools". The Observer. Retrieved 8 December 2014. 
  22. ^ Nicholas Watt (27 November 2014). "Nicky Morgan moves to counter Michael Gove's 'toxic' legacy". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 December 2014. 
  23. ^ Greg Hurst Education Editor (9 December 2014). "Gove's replacement Nicky Morgan needs to be 'more radical', says Sir Anthony Seldon". The Times. Retrieved 9 December 2014. 
  24. ^ Edward Malnick (30 January 2015). "Exam board chief: Private schools are being 'punished' in league tables". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 1 February 2015. 
  25. ^ Jess Staufenberg (28 December 2015). "Schools must teach that Britain is 'mainly Christian' and need not cover atheism, says Nicky Morgan". The Independent. Retrieved 31 December 2015. 
  26. ^ Chris Green (25 January 2016). "Faith school complaints ban is 'affront to democracy', campaigners say". The Independent. Retrieved 28 June 2016. 
  27. ^ Judith Burns (15 December 2015). "Fight to save Royal School for Deaf Children". BBC News. Retrieved 15 April 2016. 
  28. ^ Dr Terry Riley OBE (10 December 2015). "Save Britain's oldest Deaf school & safeguard the future of our deaf children & young people". Retrieved 4 January 2016. 
  29. ^ "Margate deaf students 'abused and harmed'". BBC News Online. 5 April 2016. Retrieved 13 October 2016. 
  30. ^ Richard Adams (26 March 2016). "Nicky Morgan warns teachers: no 'reverse gear' for academies plan". The Guardian. Retrieved 4 April 2016. 
  31. ^ Toby Helm (2 April 2014). "Tory backbench rebellion threat over George Osborne's academies plan". Retrieved 4 April 2016. 
  32. ^ Richard Adams (6 May 2016). "Government drops plan to make all schools in England academies". The Guardian. Retrieved 25 June 2016. 
  33. ^ "Conservative leadership: More contenders to launch leadership bids". BBC news. 29 June 2016. Retrieved 29 June 2016. 
  34. ^ James Kirkup (29 June 2016). "Nicky Morgan: Conservatives must make the 'positive case' for immigration". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 29 June 2016. 
  35. ^ "Statement on Conservative Party Leadership". Nicky Morgan MP. 30 June 2016. Retrieved 1 July 2016. 
  36. ^ Roy Greenslade (12 October 2016). "Daily Mail's attack on 'Bremoaners' reflects editor's Brexit fears". The Guardian. Retrieved 13 October 2016. 
  37. ^ Christopher Hope and Laura Hughes (9 September 2016). "Theresa May's new wave of grammar schools under threat as Nicky Morgan and Ofsted chief lead revolt". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 9 September 2016. 
  38. ^ "Anger of students may oust top Lib Dems at ballot box". The Times. 1 December 2014. Retrieved 11 December 2014. 
  39. ^ a b "House of Commons: Wednesday 14 July 2010" Parliament of the United Kingdom. 14 July 2010. Retrieved 19 February 2011.
  40. ^ BBC Politics Show East Midlands 7 November 2010
  41. ^ Johnny McDevitt, Rob Evans and Meirion Jones (1 May 2015). "Cabinet minister accepted donation from corporate spy". Guardian newspapers. Retrieved 2 May 2015. 
  42. ^ Georgia Graham (21 January 2014). "Tories need less 'hate' to win election, says minister". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 31 January 2014. 
  43. ^ "Local MP is in the running!". Retrieved 5 April 2015. 
  44. ^ Adam Withnall (10 February 2015). "Conservatives silent auction: This is what Tory donors bid for at the party's fundraiser – and what everyone else has to say about it". the Independent. Retrieved 5 April 2015. 

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Andy Reed
Member of Parliament
for Loughborough

Political offices
Preceded by
Sajid Javid
Economic Secretary to the Treasury
Succeeded by
Andrea Leadsom
Financial Secretary to the Treasury
Succeeded by
David Gauke
Preceded by
Maria Miller
as Minister for Women and Equalities
Minister for Women
Succeeded by
as Minister for Women and Equalities
Preceded by
as Minister for Women
Minister for Women and Equalities
Succeeded by
Justine Greening
Preceded by
Sajid Javid
as Minister for Equalities
Preceded by
Michael Gove
Secretary of State for Education