Claims that David Cameron regrets legalising gay marriage are untrue, says Downing Street

 

Political Editor

Downing Street today denied that David Cameron regretted his decision to legalise gay marriage because of the uproar it caused inside the Conservative Party.

But there are persistent claims that the Prime Minister is trying to send a signal to Tory grassroots members that he is sorry the measure alienated so many of them – and provoked some to defect to the UK Independence Party.

The allegation first surfaced in a new book about the Coalition,  “In It Together”, by the journalist Matthew d’Ancona. He said Mr Cameron told an ally: “If I’d known what it was going to be like, I wouldn’t have done it.”

The Prime Minister denied the claim in a BBC interview last Sunday, saying: “I don’t regret it and Britain is a more equal and fairer country for having done it.”  But he admitted: “I don’t  think I expected quite the furore that there was.  It’s clearly been very difficult for some people to take on and I completely understand and respect that, back that.”

Today the claim resurfaced when the Daily Mail said Mr Cameron told senior Tory activists at a private session at the party’s Manchester conference he made a “terrible” mistake over gay marriage. One local Tory association chairman told the paper: “Cameron was repeatedly and often forcefully challenged over gay marriage.  He said he still believed that gay marriage was right but regretted the way he had forced it through Parliament. He was  effectively saying he wished he had left it well alone. We wished he had too.”

Tory sources confirmed that the issue was raised when the Prime Minister addressed about 200 activists at  the annual meeting of the  party’s National Convention  on Sunday. But they disputed the Mail’s version of events, saying that gay marriage was raised by the first questioner, but no one else –and produced an audible groan from the audience. The sources  insisted  Mr Cameron repeated what he said in the BBC interview and  received a loud round of applause when he said he was a  “big believer” in gay marriage. He also said the issue was bound to arise in the next few years and so the Conservatives would have to take a view on it at some point.

A Downing Street spokesman said today: “The account of the meeting is totally incorrect. As the Prime Minister said at the weekend, he does not regret allowing equal civil marriage, and believes that Britain is a more equal and fairer country to having done it.”

When the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill passed the Commons, 136 of the 303 Tory MPs voted against it but it won the support of most Labour and Liberal Democrat MPs.  The first gay marriage ceremonies are expected next summer.

Labour accused the Prime Minister of sending mixed messages. Kate Green, the shadow Minister for Equalities, said: "Instead of regretting pushing through equal marriage, Cameron should be celebrating. For David Cameron and those around him to even think about apologising to his party for same sex marriage shows his weakness. His inability to lead his own MPs meant that it took Labour votes to get the legislation through - something that is a source of pride for us but, it seems, a source of shame to the Tories. It's shocking that David Cameron thinks that taking such an important step towards equality is the biggest mistake of his premiership."

Arts & Entertainment
Madonna in her music video for 'Like A Virgin'
music... and other misheard song lyrics
News
Waitrose will be bringing in more manned tills
newsOverheard in Waitrose: documenting the chatter in 'Britain's poshest supermarket'
News
Russia's President Vladimir Putin gives his annual televised question-and-answer session
peopleBizarre TV claim
Arts & Entertainment
Martin Freeman as Lester Nygaard in the TV adaptation of 'Fargo'
tv
VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Arts & Entertainment
tvIt might all be getting a bit much, but this is still the some of the finest TV ever made, says Grace Dent
News
peopleStar to remain in hospital for up to 27 days to get over allergic reaction
Arts & Entertainment
Comedian Lenny Henry is calling for more regulation to support ethnic actors on TV
tvActor and comedian leads campaign against 'lack of diversity' in British television
News
The energy drink MosKa was banned for containing a heavy dose of the popular erectile dysfunction Levitra
news
Arts & Entertainment
The Honesty Policy is a group of anonymous Muslims who believe that the community needs a space to express itself without shame or judgement
music
News
Who makes you happy?
happy listSend your nominations now for the Independent on Sunday Happy List
Life & Style
life
Life & Style
fashion
News
weird news
Sport
Pablo Larrazabal jumps into a pond in Kuala Lumpur to escape a swarm of hornets
videoSpain's Pablo Larrazabal's had a refreshing solution
Arts & Entertainment
Ian Anderson, the leader of British rock band Jethro Tull, (right) and British guitar player Martin Barre (left) perform on stage
musicJethro Tull frontman leads ‘prog rock’ revival
Life & Style
Father and son: Michael Williams with son Edmund
lifeAs his son’s bar mitzvah approaches, CofE-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys he’s experienced in learning about his family’s other faith
Sport
Jonathan Trott will take a second break from cricket after suffering a repeat of the stress-related illness that forced him out of the Ashes tour of Australia
sport
Sport
Gareth Bale dribbled from inside his own half and finished calmly late in the final to hand Real a 2-1 win at the Mestalla in Valencia
sport
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Apprentice IT Technician

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is a company that specializ...

1st Line Technical Service Desk Analyst IT Apprentice

£153.75 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is an innovative outsourcin...

1st Line Helpdesk Engineer Apprentice

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company has been providing on site ...

Sales Associate Apprentice

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: We've been supplying best of breed peopl...

Day In a Page

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

Cannes Film Festival

Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

The concept album makes surprise top ten return

Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
10 best baking books

10 best baking books

Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

Jury still out on Pellegrini

Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players
Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

The all-rounder has been hailed as future star after Ashes debut but incident in Caribbean added to doubts about discipline. Jon Culley meets a man looking to control his emotions
Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

The most prize money ever at an All-Weather race day is up for grabs at Lingfield on Friday, and the record-breaking trainer tells Jon Freeman how times have changed
Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit