PM faces gay marriage Bill backlash

Burnley and Pendle Citizen: David Cameron is expected to hail the historic gay marriage vote David Cameron is expected to hail the historic gay marriage vote

David Cameron is facing a fresh bout of Tory strife after the coalition's plans to introduce gay marriage cleared the Commons.

The Prime Minister saw his will done as the controversial Bill easily secured its third reading - but 130 of his own MPs opposed the change.

In a further blow after weeks of infighting, a YouGov poll for The Sun put the Conservatives on just 27% - equalling their lowest rating since 2000 - with Labour's lead stretching to 11 points.

The news drew an angry response from backbenchers who are increasingly concerned about the party's direction and the threat from Ukip. Mid Beds MP Nadine Dorries - only recently restored to the whip amid defection rumours - posted on Twitter: "So, we dropped to 27 points in tonight's polls. That gay marriage thing is really working for us."

Peterborough MP Stewart Jackson wrote: "Cameron's disdain for Conservative Party membership & for proper Parliamentary scrutiny of same sex marriage bill will come back to haunt him."

The premier is due to take to the airwaves to hail the historic gay marriage vote. But he is also likely to encounter tough questions about tensions with the Tory rank and file, many of whom were infuriated by reports that one of Mr Cameron's allies described local activists as "swivel eyed loons".

Conservative co-chairman Lord Feldman was forced to deny making the comments after being named on the internet.

The scale of Tory dissent in Tuesday night's debate has sparked renewed speculation of an attempt to oust Mr Cameron as leader before the next general election.

A total of 130 Conservative MPs opposed the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill in the free vote, including two cabinet ministers - Welsh Secretary David Jones and Environment Secretary Owen Paterson. They were joined by ten junior ministers, including Minister without Portfolio John Hayes, Solicitor-General Oliver Heald, Transport Minister Simon Burns, Europe Minister David Lidington, and Work and Pensions minister Esther McVey.

Only 118 Conservatives backed the move, although Labour and Liberal Democrat support ensured a comfortable majority. However, the Bill will have to overcome more resistance when it comes before the House of Lords.

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