The Defence Secretary Philip Hammond yesterday became the first senior member of the Government to break ranks and raise doubts over the Coalition's commitment to legislate for gay marriage.
In remarks which will alarm both Conservative party modernisers and Liberal Democrats, Mr Hammond suggested that gay marriage was too controversial and not enough of a priority to spend political capital on.
In an interview yesterday, Mr Hammond appeared to link gay marriage with proposals to reform the House of Lords – neither of which, he said, were a priority for the voters.
"If you stop people in the street and ask them what their concerns are, they'll talk to you about jobs and economic growth, the level of the wages they're earning, wanting to see real growth in wages again."
But his comments were met with irritation by the Liberal Democrats. A source close to the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said: "We would fully expect Mr Hammond to support government policy regardless of his views. Gay marriage is something which is backed by both the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister."Reuse content