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Maria Colette Caulfield (born 6 August 1973) is a Conservative Party politician and a supporter of the ERG,[1] and nurse. She was first elected as Member of Parliament (MP) for Lewes in 2015.[2] She was given the role of Conservative Campaign Headquarters (CCHQ) Vice Chair for Women on 8 January 2018,[3] until her resignation on 10 July 2018 in protest at the Brexit strategy of the Prime Minister, Theresa May.[4]

Maria Caulfield
Official portrait of Maria Caulfield crop 2.jpg
Vice Chairman of the
Conservative Party for Women
In office
8 January 2018 – 10 July 2018
LeaderTheresa May
Preceded byOffice established
Succeeded byHelen Whately
Member of Parliament
for Lewes
In office
8 May 2015 – 6 November 2019
Preceded byNorman Baker
Succeeded byElection in progress
Majority5,508 (10.2%)
Personal details
Born (1973-08-06) 6 August 1973 (age 46)
Lambeth, London, England
Political partyConservative
WebsiteOfficial website

Early life and careerEdit

Maria Caulfield was born on 6 August 1973 to Irish immigrant parents and grew up on in a working class area of Wandsworth, London. Her father was from a farming family, but after his emigration worked as a builder while her mother was a nurse.[5]

While Caulfield was in her teens, her mother died from breast cancer[5] and after leaving school she became an NHS nurse.[6][7] She has spoken about her upbringing saying that she "grew up in a run-down area of South London where the only careers advice given to us was the phone number of the local council housing office for when you became a single mum and needed a council flat".[7]

As a nurse, she eventually specialised in cancer research and moved to the south coast of England where she worked at the Royal Sussex County Hospital and the Princess Royal Hospital and then the Royal Marsden. She became involved with the Conservative Party after joining a campaign to save local hospitals in the Brighton area.[7]

Political careerEdit

In the 2007 Brighton and Hove City Council election, Caulfield stood as a Conservative Party candidate and became a member of the local city council for the previously safe Labour ward of Moulsecoomb - winning by just one vote. She served in the cabinet of the then Conservative authority and held the Housing Portfolio. In the following 2011 local election she lost her seat to the Labour Party candidate by over 600 votes.[8]

At the 2010 general election she unsuccessfully stood[9] in the Caerphilly constituency, a safe Labour seat, coming second to Wayne David, the defending sitting MP.[10] She had been shortlisted for the position of Conservative Party candidate for Gosport in the previous year. She received criticism from local political rivals for both campaigns on the grounds that her focus should be on her council work in Brighton.[11][12]

For several years, she held the role of Deputy Regional Chairman for the South East Conservatives[13] and was a Co-ordinator in the NO2AV campaign in the 2011 AV referendum.

In 2013, she was selected for the constituency of Lewes by the Lewes Conservative Association,[7] and at the 2015 general election she overturned a 7,647 majority and defeated the incumbent Liberal Democrat MP Norman Baker.[14] She was re-elected at the 2017 general election.

Caulfield backed Brexit during the 2016 EU membership referendum.[15]

A practising Roman Catholic,[16][17] she supports lowering the current abortion time limit.[18][19]

In September 2017, she faced criticism after she hosted a Parliamentary event with the Royal College of Nursing to gain support for scrapping the below inflation cap on nurses pay but did not take part in a parliamentary debate on this. Defending her position, Caulfield argued the only way to lift the nurses' pay cap would be during a meaningful budget vote.[20]

On 8 January 2018, Caulfield was appointed the Conservative Campaign Headquarters' Vice Chair for Women; the appointment was criticised by Women's rights groups, including the Women's Equality Party, because she had opposed a Ten Minute Rule bill in March 2017 which sought to allow abortion to term and for voting in 2015 with the government to oppose the removal of the so-called tampon tax, currently levied on female sanitary products as the UK can currently not zero rate VAT on these products while a member of the EU [21] She later submitted her letter of resignation from this position on 10 July 2018 in protest at the Brexit strategy of the Prime Minister, Theresa May.[4]

In the House of Commons she sits on the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee. She has sat on the Women and Equalities Committee and Committee on Exiting the European Union.[22]

Caulfield employs her husband as her office manager. The practice of MPs employing family members, has been criticised by some sections of the media on the lines that it promotes nepotism.[23][24] Although MPs who were first elected in 2017 have been banned from employing family members, the restriction is not retrospective - meaning that Caulfield's employment of her husband is lawful.[25]

On 1 August 2019, Caulfield was made Parliamentary Private Secretary (PPS) to the Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps as part of a government reshuffle.[citation needed]

Personal lifeEdit

She lives with her husband Steve Bell, an ex-serviceman and former builder, who now works as her Office Manager. He is also a Brighton and Hove City Councillor,[26] as well as being active in the voluntary party and was President (2015–16) of the Conservative National Convention, the organizing body of the voluntary party.[27] She is also a member of the Conservative Christian Fellowship.[16][28]

Caulfield is an urban shepherdess, part of an environmental project which uses sheep and cattle to graze public open spaces.[29] She also holds a non-executive director position on the board of the housing charity BHT Sussex.[29] She supports Arsenal and Lewes football clubs, and is a shareholder of the latter.[30]


  1. ^
  2. ^ "LewesParliamentary constituency". BBC. 8 May 2015. Retrieved 30 January 2017.
  3. ^ Walker, Peter (8 January 2018). "Brandon Lewis unveiled as Tory chairman in chaotic reshuffle". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 8 January 2018.
  4. ^ a b "Tory vice-chairs quit over PM's Brexit plan". BBC News. 10 July 2018.
  5. ^ a b "Britain in the World". Retrieved 30 January 2017.
  6. ^ "Five Nurses take seats in the House of Commons". NursingNotes. 13 June 2017. Retrieved 20 June 2017.
  7. ^ a b c d "Maria Caulfield adopted as Conservative candidate for Lewes". Retrieved 17 May 2015.
  8. ^ "Brighton Council Election Results 1996-2011" (PDF). Plymouth University. Retrieved 19 September 2018.
  9. ^ "ConservativeHome's Seats & Candidates blog: Maria Caulfield selected for Caerphilly". 21 December 2009. Retrieved 17 May 2015.
  10. ^ "Election 2010 | Constituency | Caerphilly". Retrieved 17 May 2015.
  11. ^ "Row over valleys candidate's home". BBC News. 21 April 2010. Retrieved 18 September 2018.
  12. ^ "Brighton and Hove councillor in running to replace Gosport MP". Brighton Argus. 5 November 2009. Retrieved 19 September 2018.
  13. ^ "Former Brighton councillor to challenge Norman Baker for Lewes seat in Parliament". 9 December 2013. Retrieved 17 May 2015.
  14. ^ "Lewes parliamentary constituency - Election 2015". Retrieved 17 May 2015.
  15. ^ "Maria Caulfield will vote to leave the European Union in referendum". The Argus. Retrieved 18 June 2017.
  16. ^ a b "Sussex falls to Tory steamroller".
  17. ^ "Fall in number of Catholic MPs in the House of Commons ahead of landmark debate on assisted dying". Retrieved 18 June 2017.
  18. ^ "General Election 2015 | LIFE in Surrey and Sussex". 27 March 2015. Retrieved 17 May 2015.
  19. ^ "Where Do They Stand?". Retrieved 17 May 2015.
  20. ^ "Tory under fire over stance on nurses' pay". Brighton Argus. 8 September 2017. Retrieved 19 September 2018.
  21. ^ "Maria Caulfield: MP's new women's role sparks backlash". BBC News Online. 8 January 2018. Retrieved 8 January 2018.
  22. ^ "Maria Caulfield". Parliament UK. Retrieved 19 September 2018.
  23. ^ "One in five MPs employs a family member: the full list revealed". The Daily Telegraph. 29 June 2015. Retrieved 19 September 2018.
  24. ^ Mason, Rowena (29 June 2015). "Keeping it in the family: new MPs continue to hire relatives as staff". The Guardian. Retrieved 19 September 2018.
  25. ^ "MPs banned from employing spouses after election in expenses crackdown". London Evening Standard. 21 April 2017. Retrieved 19 September 2018.
  26. ^ "Brighton & Hove City Council election". 7 May 2015. Retrieved 17 May 2015.
  27. ^ "Steve Bell profile". Retrieved 17 May 2015.
  28. ^ "Conservative Christian Fellowship". Retrieved 17 May 2015.
  29. ^ a b "Board of Management". Retrieved 17 May 2015.
  30. ^ "About Maria Caulfield". Maria Caulfield. Retrieved 30 January 2017.

External linksEdit