Support 110 years of independent journalism.

  1. Science & Tech
25 July 2019updated 01 Jul 2021 12:14pm

Cabinet audit: What does Nicky Morgan’s appointment to Culture Media and Sport mean for policy?

By Jasper jackson

Nicky Morgan returns to cabinet as one of the few Remainers given a look in by Boris Johnson, albeit one who has come round to compromise with the Brexit cheerleaders of the European Research Group.  

Yet her destination at the Department for Culture Media and Sport suggests she has been parked somewhere with limited scope for change under this government.

There are some live issues at DCMS. Morgan will have to navigate the blame game over BBC’s decision to stop funding free TV licences for the over 75s, a decision it was forced to make after Cameron’s culture secretary John Whittingdale shifted the cost to the corporation in 2015. New regulations on fixed odds betting terminals are also being heavily resisted by the gambling industry, though it’s unclear whether that is a “sin” that the Johnson government sees mileage in giving more leeway.

Yet the real impact of Morgan’s appointment may have more to do with who she isn’t.

Culture select committee chair Damian Collins swung behind Johnson’s campaign for the leadership, but unlike Whittingdale before him was not rewarded with the job of running rather than scrutinising the department.

That may have had something to do with the way Collins doggedly pursued the issue of misinformation and opaque political advertising on Facebook, targeting not only the tech giant but also those who manipulated its systems in a bid to influence voters, most notably during the Brexit Referendum. One of those was Vote Leave’s Dominic Cummings, who, when summoned to give evidence to Collins and his fellow committee members refused, leading to his being found in contempt of parliament. 

Cummings is now a senior adviser to Boris Johnson, whose team within hours of getting into government flooded Facebook with ads laying the groundwork for an election campaign. Friends of Collins believe that the presence of Cummings explains his absence from the top table.

Content from our partners
What you need to know about private markets
Work isn't working: how to boost the nation's health and happiness
The dementia crisis: a call for action

Topics in this article :