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Profile: Who is Nicky Morgan?

With Michael Gove’s surprise departure from the Department for Education announced this morning, attention turns to his successor.

And in Nicky Morgan, many teachers would be forgiven if they scratched their heads and asked a collective, “Who?”

Ms Morgan was appointed as education secretary by prime minister David Cameron as part of a massive shake up of his front bench, with the Loughborough MP also to continue her role as minister for women and equality.

The decision not only to move Mr Gove on but to replace one of the Cabinet’s biggest hitters with a relative unknown has come as a major shock. So who is Mr Gove’s replacement?

Ms Morgan attended the private Surbiton High School in Surrey before going on to study law at St Hugh's College, Oxford. She then went to work as a corporate lawyer from 1994 until entering politics in 2010.

Having worked as parliamentary private secretary to the then universities minister David Willetts until 2012, Ms Morgan moved into the Treasury before being appointed as financial secretary to the Treasury and minister for women and equality.

Her appointment as equality minister was met with a serious backlash, however, due to her opposition to gay marriage.

The politician was one of the 175 MPs who voted against the motion to bring in gay marriage, and her placement as education secretary will be cause of major concern for gay rights groups such as School’s Out and Stonewall, which have been running campaigns against homophobic bullying in schools.

Speaking at the time about her decision, Ms Morgan said it was a matter of “conscience”.

“There have been plenty of little changes down the years, but what’s never been changed is that the fact that marriage is between a man and a woman,” she said back in February.

“I think that was one of the issues people, especially those who asked me to vote against, found hardest to accept and it also tied in with my own Christian faith too.

“I totally support civil partnerships and that same-sex relationships are recognised in law. But marriage, to me, is between a man and a woman.”

She added: “If same-sex marriages are to be dissolved, will that be different to heterosexual partnerships ending? I know there are a lot of worries for people like teachers and others in public sector roles and these are things I still feel need to be ironed out.”

Comments she made back in January could well have had some bearing on Mr Cameron’s decision to appoint her as education secretary in his overhaul of the Cabinet. 

Ms Morgan told a think tank at the start of the year that her fellow Conservatives needed to stop using the language of “hate” if they wanted to win the next general election.

She said the public had grown tired “with hearing politicians talk about who we hated – we're anti-this, we're anti-that, we don't like them, we don't want them here, we don't want them doing this”.

“We never say actually we are on the side of these people, we want this to happen and we think this is great.”

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