Philip Hammond breaks ranks on gay marriage

  • @oliver_wright

A Cabinet minister has controversially warned that the Government is upsetting “vast numbers of people” with its plans for same-sex marriage.

Philip Hammond, the Defence Secretary, pictured, broke cabinet ranks to suggest that there was “real sense of anger” among voters over the legislation, currently going through Parliament, to allow gay weddings. He said there was no great demand in the country for change and criticised the amount of parliamentary time devoted to the issue. “I have just never felt that this is what we should be focusing on,” he told the BBC’s Question Time. “This change does redefine marriage. For millions of people who are married, the meaning of marriage changes.

“There is a real sense of anger among many people who are married that any government thinks it can change the definition of an institution like marriage.”

He said the introduction of civil partnerships in 2005 had dealt with the “very real disadvantage” that gay couples faced in the past. “There was no huge demand for this and we didn’t need to spend a lot of parliamentary time and upset vast numbers of people to do it,” he said.

Mr Hammond’s comments echo the concerns of many traditionalist Tory MPs who say the issue is driving supporters away from the party. But they are likely to irritate David Cameron, who has made the change a key symbol of his efforts to modernise the Conservatives.