Michelle Donelan has been reappointed as Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport as part of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s first Cabinet.
On his first day as Prime Minister,Rishi Sunak assembled a Cabinet that included some safe bets, a few familiar faces - and one highly controversial choice.
A number of cabinet ministers, including former Business Secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg and former Levelling Up Secretary Simon Clarke, quit ahead of the reshuffle - sparking a fair deal of conversation. But it was Suella Braverman’s return as Home Secretary that led to widespread criticism, coming less than a week after she resigned for breaking the Ministerial Code.
The Prime Minister had promised to form a government of “all the talents” amidst calls from senior Tories to appoint the best ministers available - rather than focusing on those who are loyal to him.
But who exactly is Culture Secretary Michelle Donelan, and what is her previous experience in Parliament? Here is everything you need to know about her.
Who is Michelle Donelan?
Michelle Donelan was born in April 1984, and grew up in Whitley, Cheshire. In 1999, at the age of 15, she spoke at the Conservative Party Conference in Blackpool, having decided to be a politician at the age of six.
She attended The County High School in Leftwich before later graduating with a bachelor’s degree in history and politics from the University of York.
Outside of politics, Donelan worked in marketing before the 2015 election, including stints at Marie Claire magazine and World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) as an international marketing communications manager for the professional wrestling company.
She first ran for parliament in the safe Labour seat of Wentworth and Dearne in South Yorkshire in 2010, collecting 7,396 votes (17.6%) to Labour MP John Healey’s 21,316 (50.6%).
In February 2013, she was chosen as the prospective parliamentary candidate for Chippenham, where she defeated incumbent Liberal Democrat member Duncan Hames with 26,354 votes (47.6%) to 16,278 votes (29.4%).
Donelan was opposed to the UK leaving the European Union prior to the 2016 referendum, but has consistently voted against UK membership in the EU in Parliament since then.
She was appointed Minister of State for Universities in the February 2020 cabinet reshuffle, and her role was renamed Minister of State for Higher and Further Education in the 2021 cabinet reshuffle, with the added right to attend cabinet. She was also sworn in as a member of the Privy Council.
On 5 July 2022, following a large number of resignations over Boris Johnson’s handling of the Chris Pincher scandal and other political controversies, Donelan was promoted to Secretary of State for Education.
Donelan resigned on 7 July 2022, after less than 36 hours in the role, saying that Johnson had "put us in an impossible position". The move made her the shortest-serving cabinet member in British history, her tenure being shorter than Earl Temple’s four-day tenure as Foreign Secretary in 1783.
Donelan was appointed Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport by then-prime minister Liz Truss on 6 September 2022, and has remained in the same position in Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s new government.
When asked by reporters whether she was pleased to be keeping her Cabinet position as she departed No 10, Donelan said: “Very much so”. Donelan previously endorsed Sunak in the October 2022 leadership election.
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