THE Conservative MP for Lewes has told The Argus she will promote the “fantastic work” of women in the party after being promoted to the party’s vice chair for women.

Maria Caulfield was promoted to the post on Monday as part of Theresa May’s reshuffle.

Yesterday she said was “delighted”, adding: “The Conservative Party has many brilliant and talented women from the grassroots all the way to the Prime Minister.

“I will use my new role to help promote the fantastic work that they all do, ensuring that they get a fair chance to shine and use their talents within the Conservative Party for the benefit of all.

“I look forward to working with my new colleagues in CCHQ and women across the country.”

Ms Caulfield has long been a supporter of Women2Win, the Conservative campaign group which works to have more women elected to Parliament.

Her appointment prompted some criticism from pro-choice campaigners, with a spokeswoman for the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (Bpas) saying on Monday: “We are shocked the Conservative Party has decided to appoint as their vice chair for women an MP who supports the criminalisation of women who end their own pregnancies.”

The group pointed to Ms Caulfield’s speech in opposition to elements of the Reproductive Health (Access to Terminations) Bill in March 2016 – a bill whose provisions included the decriminalisation of abortion up to 24 weeks of pregnancy.

In a statement Ms Caulfield said: “I did oppose decriminalisation of abortion because I don’t believe we should be having abortions up to term, I think the 24-week limit could do with reducing with medical advances babies who are born at 22 or 23 weeks are able to survive and live long and healthy lives.”

“The current law protects women and in my couple of years as an MP I’ve never had one women come to me saying she is having difficulty accessing an abortion.”

Ms Caulfield was returned to Parliament in Lewes with a majority five times her previous margin – a dramatic win against the run of play on a bad night for her party.

She will work with new party chairman Brandon Lewis.