Cameron rebukes Northern Ireland Secretary over gay marriage
Tory MPs reacted angrily, saying they should all be allowed a free vote, even ministers
Andrew Grice has been Political Editor of The Independent since 1998. He was previously Political Editor of The Sunday Times, where he worked for 10 years, and he has been a Westminster-based journalist since 1982. His column, Inside Politics, appears in The Independent each Saturday.
Thursday 24 May 2012
David Cameron remains committed to legalising gay marriage and has rebuked one of his ministers for opposing the move, Downing Street said yesterday.
The Prime Minister backed Nick Clegg who, as The Independent revealed on Tuesday, has promised that the Government's plans will not be derailed by growing opposition among Conservative MPs. Owen Paterson, the Northern Ireland Secretary, has said he will not support the proposal.
Mr Cameron's spokesman said the Government was "committed to introducing same-sex civil marriage" by the end of the current Parliament, in 2015. Asked whether the normal rules of collective responsibility would apply, he said: "It is a government commitment."
Tory MPs reacted angrily, saying Mr Paterson and other ministers should be allowed a free vote when the legislation is brought forward.
Stewart Jackson, Mr Paterson's former parliamentary private secretary, warned that any attempt to whip MPs would cause "serious divisions". He said: "No 10 would be foolish in the extreme to disregard this as a conscience issue. Whipping the vote would be a catastrophic error of judgement and would generate serious divisions."
Peter Bone, the Tory MP for Wellingborough, warned: "There would be uproar in the party and ministerial resignations."
Mark Pritchard, a former secretary of the 1922 Committee of Tory MPs, claimed on the PoliticsHome website: "The Prime Minister has given a clear commitment to a free vote on gay marriage – therefore, Owen Paterson's comments are perfectly in order."
But two other Tory MPs, Desmond Swayne, Mr Cameron's parliamentary private secretary, and Crispin Blunt, the Justice minister, recorded video messages for the Out4Marriage campaign. Mr Swayne said he supported the move because he is a Christian. "I am married. I enjoy bring married,"he said. "It is a huge blessing. I want that blessing to be extended to everyone."
Liam Neeson's Downton dreams
Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage
Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour
Much-loved cartoon character returns - without Sir David Jason
Actress to appear in second series of the hugely popular crime drama
- 2 Scottish independence: What you shouldn't tweet about if you want to avoid jail today
- 3 Scottish independence: Five reasons Salmond is secretly hoping for a 'No' vote
- 4 Isis plan to 'behead random member of the public' in Sydney thwarted by Australian police
- 5 Scottish independence: Andy Murray backs Yes campaign in eleventh hour decision
Thailand beach murders: Thai PM suggests 'attractive' female tourists cannot expect to be safe wearing bikinis
Scottish independence referendum live: Latest news as Scotland votes Yes or No
Scottish independence: Final opinion polls show undecided voters could swing result either way
Scottish independence: Almost half of No voters have felt 'personally threatened' by the Yes campaign
Isis plan to 'behead random member of the public' in Sydney thwarted by Australian police
Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained by Los Angeles police after being mistaken for a prostitute
The political class is doing what Hitler couldn’t – destroying Britain
Scottish independence referendum: A nation divided against itself
Scottish independence: Nationalist leader Jim Sillars threatens pro-union companies with 'day of reckoning' after independence
Scottish independence: David Cameron is becoming the 'George Bush of Britain'
Russia freezes Ukraine into submission: Kiev admits country doesn't have enough fuel for winter
Unpaid Voluntary Position : Reach Volunteering: Promising volunteer Trustee op...
£30000 - £35000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...
£110 - £130 per hour: Randstad Education Reading: Psychology Teacher needed fo...
£85 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: Randstad Education are curren...