Huffpost UK Politics

David Cameron Backs Down From Gay Marriage Promise To 'Appease Tory Backbenchers'

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David Cameron looks likely to step away from gay marriage legislation
David Cameron looks likely to step away from gay marriage legislation

David Cameron is to back down from legalising gay marriage in the near future in order to win back the support of Conservative backbenchers.

The Prime Minister is reportedly ready to put plans to legalise gay marriage on hold, according to the Sunday Times.

"Gay marriage is something we genuinely want to do, not because of everything that has happened now is not the time," a Number 10 source told the Sunday paper.

Many backbenchers are convinced the party's recent blunders - over immigration and tax cuts, to name a few - are responsible for Conservative losses. In Thursday's local elections, the Conservatives lost 405 seats and 12 councils, piling even more pressure on the prime minister to regroup his party.

Cameron has also been criticised for failing to adopt a tougher stance, including by his golden boy Boris Johnson as he marched to victory to be re-elected as London mayor for a second term.

Cameron's liberal plans to legalise gay marriage and reform the House of Lords have resulted in turning backbenchers against their leader. The barely-contained undercurrent of tension is an all-too-present threat to Cameron's party leadership.

Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 committee, the powerful backbench group credited for ousting Margaret Thatcher, is scheduled to hold talks with Cameron and is due to advise the PM to scrap gay marriage legislation plans.

Cameron has already received warnings from Dr John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York, who compared the PM to a dictator if he was to allow couples of the same sex to marry.

But one Tory MP, Stuart Andrew, said a Commons vote allowing full gay marriage would be passed "without a doubt".

"I've spoken to a number of people around the building, and I would be surprised if the figure of a hundred people rebelling was accurate. I suspect a number of people who have deep religious beliefs will rebel, and that's fine," he told Huffpost UK.

As it stands, MPs will not be subjected to two-line whip rules, in keeping with traditional conscience issues upheld in the House of Commons.

So it seems Cameron will be forced to decide between what he has previously openly supported and keeping the backbenchers happy - not an easy feat.

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