Who is Justine Greening, the UK's first LGBT Minister of Equalities?

The Putney MP has also been promoted to the position for Secretary of State for Education 

Olivia Blair@livblair
Thursday 14 July 2016 18:00
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Who is Justine Greening

Justine Greening has been appointed Education Secretary and Minister for Women and Equalities, taking over the reins from Nicky Morgan.

Theresa May has wasted no time in hiring and firing cabinet members since replacing David Cameron as Prime Minister on Wednesday. Her cabinet reshuffle has included a few divisive appointments, including the announcement of Boris Johnson as Foreign Secretary.

Her reshuffle continued on Thursday with the promotion of Ms Greening and the sacking of Ms Morgan.

As a female, northern, woman who attended a comprehensive school and is in a same-sex relationship, Ms Greening stands in stark contrast to many of her Tory colleagues.

Same-sex relationship

Last month, two days after Britain voted to leave the EU, Ms Greening marked the LGBT Pride festival by publicly announcing she was in a same-sex relationship.

The 47-year-old's announcement was met by a wave of congratulatory messages and support, including from Mr Cameron and the former Chancellor George Osborne, who told her that following Brexit it was the "best news” he had heard in 48 hours.

The announcement means Ms Greening is the first openly LGBT woman to serve in the UK cabinet.

After making the announcement, which she said was a “big thing to do”, she told the Evening Standard she and her partner Tess had been together for several years. She revealed her family were “incredibly supportive” but not all of her friends were aware of her sexuality before she made the announcement.

“Unfortunately we’re still in a world where people need to do an announcement but I was pleased to do mine. And I think Tess is very pleased that I felt able to be clear about our relationship,” she said.

Citing a recent report which found 75 per cent of people in same-sex relationships do not feel they can be open about it, Ms Greening said: “I can certainly relate to that. But I just felt that I didn’t want to be part of that 75 per cent [any more]. Hopefully I can encourage the [remaining] 75 per cent to be happy about who they are and to realise what I’m steadily realising: that people like you for who you are.”

When Ms Morgan was given the role in 2014 there was some anger over her appointment in light of her voting record: she voted against the introduction of same-sex marriage in 2013. The appointment today of an openly LGBT woman heading up this department has been largely regarded on social media as a positive shift.

The LGBT equality campaign group Stonewall also tweeted their support to Ms Greening.

Similarly, others have reviewed her comprehensive school background as a good fit for leading the Education department.

Background

Ms Greening was educated in Rotherham and is the daughter of a steelworker. Last year, she told the Independent on Sunday she would have “got nowhere” without education.

“I passionately believe that everybody has something that they do really well. If they can find that then people can be amazingly self-motivated,” she said.

Ms Greening studied economics at Southampton University and earned an MBA at the London Business School.

She was an accountant at Price Waterhouse Coopers and also worked at GlaxoSmithKline and Centrica.

Political career

Ms Greening became MP for Putney, Roehampton and Southfields in 2005 regaining a typically Tory seat from a Labour hold.

She was then appointed shadow Treasury minister before being moved by Mr Cameron to shadow minister for communities and local government in 2009.

She entered the Cabinet in 2011 after being appointed as Secretary of State for Transport before being reshuffled to Secretary of State for International Development, the role she held from 2012 until the present day.

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