Karen was selected as the Parliamentary Spokesman for the Staffordshire Moorlands constituency in July 2006. Karen was born in Staffordshire Moorlands and spent her early years living in Cheddleton. She moved to Buxton, in the neighbouring county of Derbyshire, when her parents took over a pub in the town. She attended the local state comprehensive school, Buxton Girls School, before going on to study Mathematics at Imperial College in London.
After university, Karen qualified as a Chartered Accountant and Chartered Tax Adviser. She has advised numerous different businesses, from multi-nationals to local farms. Karen lives in Leek and is married with two sons.
When she is not campaigning, looking after her children or working, Karen enjoys experimenting with new recipes and reading, particularly detective fiction and Tudor history.
Karen was a relative latecomer to active politics, describing herself as a “couch Conservative” until 2002. Then she was seconded by her employer at the time, KPMG, to work as a technical adviser to the Shadow Treasury Team led by Michael Howard. During this secondment, Karen well and truly caught the politics bug and threw herself into active campaigning with a vengeance. Karen was the Parliamentary candidate for Manchester Withington at the 2005 General Election. Before that election Karen worked in the Conservative Policy Unit, helping to develop economic and fiscal policies, particularly those associated with over-regulation and red tape. She has been the MP for Staffordshire Moorlands since May 2010.
Karen was a member of the Work and Pensions Select Committee until she was made a minister and joined the Government Whips Office in 2012. In 2014 Karen joined the Home Office and brought in the Modern Slavery Act and Serious Crimes Act. She was appointed to the cabinet as DCMS Secretary in July 2016.