David Cameron facing rebellion over gay marriage

UK Prime Minister David Cameron is facing what could prove to be the biggest Conservative rebellion of his premiership over plans to introduce gay marriage.

Some 118 Tory MPs - out of 303 in total - have indicated to their constituents that they are uneasy about the highly controversial move, according to The Daily Mail.

The reported figure is a sign of how divided the Conservative Party is over gay marriage, despite both the Prime Minister and Chancellor George Osborne being personally committed to legalising it.

Ministers have promised to introduce a bill before 2015, although it has been claimed this week that Mr Cameron actually wants to fast-track legislation and bring it before Parliament early next year.

The Government has indicated that there will be a free vote, meaning that MPs will be able to vote against the Prime Minister's position without facing disciplinary action.

However, a large Tory vote against gay marriage will not help the party appeal to centre ground voters. Mr Osborne warned last week that ditching the policy would be toxic electorally.

He said that polls indicate a "clear majority" in favour of the change, particularly among the young and women.

In an analysis of Barack Obama's victory in last week's US presidential election, Mr Osborne said that Mitt Romney's prospects were undermined by the sense that the Republicans were out of step with modern America on social issues such as abortion and gay marriage.

"It is worth reflecting that in Britain, as in America, a clear majority of the public support gay marriage, and an even bigger majority of women support it. That majority support is just as high in the North as it is the South, and it is equally high among all socio-economic groups," he wrote in The Times.

"Successful political parties reflect the modern societies they aspire to lead. As Margaret Thatcher said in the first sentence of her introduction to the 1979 Conservative election manifesto: 'The heart of politics is not political theory, it is people and how they want to live their lives'."

-AAP

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