Conservative leader David Cameron has appointed his party’s first openly lesbian candidate his new vice-chairman.

Margot James, a Chelsea based millionaire businesswoman became the first openly lesbian woman to stand as a Conservative candidate when she contested the safe Labour seat of Holborn and St Pancreas at the last general election.

Miss James is in a long-term relationship with girlfriend, Jay Hunt, 38, host of the BBC makeover programme Would Like To Meet.

Mr Cameron has appointed Miss James as party vice-chairman with overall responsibility for women’s issues. Her appointment follows that of openly gay MP, Alan Duncan as Shadow Trade and Industry Secretary last week.

Speaking to the Daily Mail, Miss James named former Prime Minister, Baroness Thatcher as her role model: “‘I will never forget the day she became leader of the party. I secretly took the day off from school to come to London and I found myself shaking her hand. It was so inspiring.”

Miss James became a millionaire after selling the public relations firm Shire Hall for £4m in 1999. She is widely tipped to be offered a safe seat at the next general election.