Cameron warned he has "no mandate" to redefine marriage by legalising gay weddings


Cameron warned he has 'no mandate' to redefine marriage by legalising gay weddingsDozens of MPs and peers sign letter accusing the PM of ignoring public opinionCross-party group say no party promised same-sex weddings in 2010 manifesto

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UPDATED:

09:38 GMT, 17 December 2012


David Cameron has promised to pass laws next year which would legalise gay marriage

David Cameron has promised to pass laws next year which would legalise gay marriage

David Cameron is today accused of ‘ploughing on regardless’ with plans to legalise gay marriage in the face of opposition from dozens of MPs and peers.

The Prime Minister has insisted he will enshrine same sex weddings in law next year, with legal protection for the Church of England and other religious groups who chose not to opt in.

But more than 55 members of the Commons and Lords have signed a letter claiming that no political party put the idea forward at the last election, warning the Government ‘does not have a mandate to redefine marriage’.

The new cross-party effort to oppose gay marriage is the first time a significant number have publicly criticised the policy, but is much smaller than the more than 100 Tory MPs to have expressed some unease about the move in letters to constituents.

The letter, signed by Tory, Labour and independent MPs and peers, focus much of their criticism on the government’s consultation process which it claims showed an ‘overwhelming public response’ opposed to gay marriage.

The letter states: ‘At the last election, none of the three main parties stood on a platform to redefine marriage.

‘It was not contained in any of their manifestos, nor did it feature in the Coalition’s Programme for Government.

‘These facts alone should have led to extreme caution on the part of those calling for this change to be made.

‘Instead the Government is ignoring the overwhelming public response against the plans.'

Opponents of the plan for gay marriage argue the Prime Minister is ignoring public opinion and has no mandate for change

Opponents of the plan for gay marriage argue the Prime Minister is ignoring public opinion and has no mandate for change

‘The consultation has ignored the views of 500,000 British residents in favour of anonymous submissions from anyone anywhere in the world.

‘We believe that the Government does not have a mandate to redefine marriage,’ said the letter to the Daily Telegraph.

REDEFINING MARRIAGE: MPs AND PEERS WHO SIGNED THE LETTER

The signatories of the letter are:

David Burrowes MP (Con); Joe Benton MP (Lab); David Davis MP (Con); Mary Glindon MP (Lab); Lord Hylton (Crossbench); Nigel Dodds MP (DUP); Lord Anderson of Swansea (Lab); Fiona Bruce MP (Con); Jim Dobbin MP (Lab); Lord Carey of Clifton (Crossbench); Rehman Chishti MP (Con); Lord Griffiths of Fforestfach (Con); Sir Gerald Howarth MP (Con); Tim Loughton MP (Con); Peter Bone MP (Con); Jeffrey Donaldson (DUP); Andrew Selous MP (Con); John Glen MP (Con); Sir Jim Paice MP (Con); Stewart Jackson MP (Con); Lord Edmiston (Con); Jim Shannon MP (DUP); Lord Palmer (Crossbench); Andrew Bingham MP (Con); Lord Shrewsbury and Waterford (Con); Julian Brazier MP (Con); David Simpson MP (DUP); Pauline Latham MP (Con); Nick de Bois MP (Con); Richard Drax MP (Con); Lord Tombs (Crossbench); Jonathan Evans MP (Con); Sir Roger Gale MP (Con); Ian Paisley (DUP); Gordon Henderson MP (Con); Philip Hollobone MP (Con); Lord Stoddart of Swindon (Ind Lab); Marcus Jones MP (Con); Lord Swinfen (Con); Baroness Fookes (Con); Jeremy LeFroy MP (Con); Lord Vinson (Con); Karl McCartney MP (Con); Dr William McCrea MP (DUP); Anne McIntosh MP (Con); Stephen Metcalfe MP (Con); Anne-Marie Morris MP (Con); David Nuttall MP (Con); Matthew Offord MP (Con); David Davies MP (Con); Mark Pawsey MP (Con); David Ruffley MP (Con); Lord Marlesford (Con); Henry Smith MP (Con); Baroness O'Cathain (Con); Bob Stewart MP (Con); Ben Wallace MP (Con); Craig Whittaker MP (Con.

The signatories include former Tory minster Sir Gerald Howarth, David Davis and Tim Loughton, Labour’s Lord Anderson and former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey.

Tory MP David Burrowes, who is orchestrating the campaign against same sex marriage, said: ‘Last week the Coalition Government announced the beginning of the end of the traditional meaning of marriage.

‘It also marked the beginning of the Parliamentary campaign which I am leading and supported by a coalition of Parliamentarians across the political spectrum.’

However, senior Cabinet ministers who once opposed gay marriage now say they are ready to support the legislation, expected in Parliament next summer.

Communities Secretary Eric Pockles said: ‘I used to feel that marriage was just for men and women.

'Now, about a year or so ago I changed my mind – I’d seen constituents that had a civil partnership, I’d seen friends that had a civil partnership.

‘And I think it’s perfectly acceptable to have marriage in all but name, and this is a civil marriage – it’s not a religious marriage.’

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: ‘I think you have to make decisions in Government, you have to do progressive social legislation and the voters can take their choice when the general election comes…

'I took a view that what was being proposed was right, the right move as far as allowing people the freedom to marry.’

He denied advising Mr Cameron about pressing ahead with the changes when he was chief whip.