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."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
glastonbury
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Shock of the news: Jake Gyllenhaal in ‘Nightcrawler’
filmReview: Gyllenhaal, in one of his finest performances, is funny, engaging and sinister all at once
Life and Style
Taste the difference: Nell Frizzell tucks into a fry-up in Jesse's cafe in east London
food + drinkHow a bike accident left one woman living in a distorted world in which spices smell of old socks and muesli tastes like pork fat
Arts and Entertainment
Kit Harington has been given a huge pay rise to extend his contract as Jon Snow in Game of Thrones
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Don’t send in the clowns: masks and make-up conceal true facial expressions, thwarting our instinct to read people’s minds through their faces, as seen in ‘It’
filmThis Halloween, we ask what makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?
News
peopleFarage challenges 'liberally biased' comedians to 'call him a narcissist'
Arts and Entertainment
Liam and Zayn of One Direction play with a chimpanzee on the set of their new video for 'Steal My Girl'
music
Arts and Entertainment
Young Fathers are the surprise winners of this year's Mercury Music Prize
music
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior IP Opportunity at Major Firm

vary Attractive Salary: Austen Lloyd: MANCHESTER - AN OPENING AT A VERY HIGH Q...

Nursery Manager

£100 - £110 per day: Randstad Education Ilford: Nursery Manager Long term Ran...

Sales Consultant – Permanent – West Sussex – £24-£25k plus commission and other benefits

£24000 - £25000 Per Annum plus company car and commission: Clearwater People S...

SEN Teaching Assistant

£45 - £65 per day: Randstad Education Bristol: Supply SEN Support Jobs in Bris...

Day In a Page

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

Fall of the Berlin Wall

It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

Frank Warren column

Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

Adrian Heath's American dream...

Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes
Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs:

Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs

"I have never regarded anything I have done in "the media" as a proper job"