Who is the new Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer?
Michelle Donelan has been replaced by Lucy Frazer as the Culture Secretary in today’s Cabinet reshuffle.
The change comes as Prime Minister Rishi Sunak detached the digital arm of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. Now, a new streamlined department will solely focus on Culture, Media and Sport, which will be headed up by Frazer.
Donelan will move over to become the secretary of state for Science, Innovation and Technology, which is one of four newly formed departments.
Claire Walker and Hannah Essex, co-CEOs of the Society of London Theatre (SOLT) and UK Theatre said: “We, and the wider theatre sector, are delighted to welcome the announcement of a new Department for Culture, Media and Sport and Lucy Frazer KC MP as the Secretary of State.
“It is a positive step that the Prime Minister has recognised the importance of culture and the creative industries to the UK economy, and the UK’s role as a global leader in these areas. We look forward to working with the new Secretary of State and department to promote, sustain and grow the UK theatre sector at home and internationally.”
Frazer makes the 12th appointee to the role in the 12 years the Conservatives have been in power.
But who is Lucy Frazer? Is her approach likely to differ from Michelle Donelan’s? Here’s everything to know about the new Culture Secretary.
Born in Yorkshire in 1972, Frazer was educated privately at Gateways School for Girls and Leeds Girls’ High School before going on to Newnham College, Cambridge, where she was President of the Cambridge Union. She met her husband David Leigh, who runs a recruitment company, while at university and the couple share two children.
Frazer had a successful career as a barrister in commercial law, and was appointed a Queen’s Counsel in 2013 at the age of 40. She decided to go into politics because she wanted to make a difference, “I am simply someone who has been lucky in her professional career who feels it is important to contribute to society,” she said.
She’s had notable roles in government since 2019
Frazer, the Conservative MP for South East Cambridgeshire, was first elected to the position in 2015.
Since then she’s held numerous governmental positions including Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Paymaster General (2016), Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (2018 to 2019), Minister of State for Prisons (2019), Solicitor General (in 2019 and 2021) and Financial Secretary to the Treasury (2021).
This past year, Frazer was the Minister of State in the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities and spent six weeks as the Minister of State at the Department for Transport during the political turbulence that was autumn 2022.
In the past she was also been elected to the Education Select Committee and was appointed a Privy Counsellor.
The daughter of Jewish immigrants, in 2018, when she was appointed to a position at the Ministry of Justice, she was reportedly the only Jewish woman in government.
Differing from Donelan
Looks like another '"Culture" Minister who does not appear to have any interest in culture..... No surprise there..
— jane rodway (@petluddite) February 7, 2023
Unlike her predecessor, Donelan, Frazer does not have any direct experience when it comes to culture, media or sport. Donelan had worked as an International Marketing Communications Manager at WWE, as well as for The History Channel and for Australian publisher Pacific Magazines.
However, in 2018 she hosted a News Media Association roundtable about the News Media and court access. At the time she said: “As we continue to reform our courts and tribunals, it is important that we work with the media to ensure access is maintained and, where possible, enhanced.”
There’s no news as of yet as to the position that Frazer will take on Nadine Dorries’ (the Culture Secretary between 2021 and 2022) controversial attempts to try and privatise Channel 4 and freeze the BBC license fee. When Donelan became Culture Secretary in September last year, she shelved Dorries’ television license intentions.
It seems that Frazer has not yet made any major statements on the policy area she will now be taking over. According to the Press Gazette: a “search of Hansard, Google and Twitter for Frazer’s statements on the Online Safety Bill, the BBC, the licence fee, Channel 4 privatisation and the Digital Markets Unit all returned either no results or only passing mentions.”
Her voting record
Donelan has a much more progressive voting record than Donelan, voting for legalising abortion (in certain circumstances) and for legalising civil partnerships between non-same-sex couples in Northern Ireland. Frazer also voted for assisted dying of the terminally ill to be deemed lawful if permission had been granted by the High Court.
However, she voted against keeping the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights after Brexit. She also said she would support Boris Johnson in the June 2022 vote of no confidence in his Conservative Party leadership.
She has received death threats
Speaking on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire in 2019, Frazer said she had received death threats since becoming an MP. “I have had death threats, not recently, but I have had them,” she said. “It is very distressing but you need to become resilient.”
Speaking about Brexit, she said: “People have strong feelings about Brexit... So I expect their feelings to come to me as their MP who is someone who is voting about things that they care about.” Frazer voted to remain in the EU in 2016, and then against leaving the European Union without a withdrawal agreement in April 2019.
In 2017, Frazer wrote, “I voted to remain in the European Union but we live in a democracy and that means we have to respect the outcome of a national vote. We must now focus on getting the best deal, for us both locally and nationally.”
What are people saying online?
As could have been predicted, responses to Frazer’s appointment have been mixed. One Twitter user said: “Lucy Frazer is the 8th Culture Secretary in 5 years…will she be the 1st to actually care about culture? Let’s hope so,” while another said, “Lucy Frazer is our new Culture Secretary - the 12th culture secretary in 12 years - truly pitiful.”
“The one thing you can say about Lucy Frazer is that compared to Nadine Dorries, she is something of a gifted genius,” said a third.
Lucy Frazer KC MP, in a short parliamentary career, seems to have spent a few minutes in a lot of departments. Would be nice if the DCMS wasn't such a revolving door.
— ruth wishart (@ruth_wishart) February 7, 2023
Lucy Frazer is our new Culture Secretary - the 12th culture secretary in 12 years - truly pitiful
— Carl Woodward (@mrcarl_woodward) February 7, 2023