Edward Leigh, a right-wing Tory MP and opponent of gay marriage, has been knighted. His opposition to David Cameron’s line on gay marriage is only the latest of a series of public disagreements he has had with successive party leaders from John Major onwards.
During his 30 years in Parliament, Sir Edward was a government minister for only three years. He was the last minister appointed by Margaret Thatcher, but was sacked from his position as a junior trade minister by John Major for his opposition to the Maastricht Treaty. Later, he chaired the influential Commons Public Accounts Committee.
He showed complete loyalty to Mrs Thatcher, who was a guest at his wedding. On the morning of her resignation in November 1990, he tried to persuade her to fight on. He also loyally backed Iain Duncan Smith, who was deposed by Tory MPs who feared that he was leading them to defeat.
After Mr Duncan Smith had been replaced as leader by Michael Howard, Sir Edward co-founded the pressure group Cornerstone – known to its opponents as “Gravestone” – to fight for “tradition, nation, family, religious ethics [and] free enterprise.”
During the recent parliamentary debates on gay marriage, he warned: “We have to get away from the idea that every single thing in life can be forced through the merciless prism of equality.” He also argued that no teacher should be sacked for teaching creationism in the classroom.
There was a knighthood also for the Liberal Democrat MP Andrew Stunell, who helped negotiate the coalition agreement. He was appointed a junior minister in the Communities department, but was dropped in last September’s reshuffle.
The former Liberal Democrat leader Sir Menzies Campbell has been made a Companion of Honour.
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