Gay marriage unites Welsh Tory MPs - in opposition
- 4 February 2013
- From the section Wales politics
It has split the Conservative Party three ways but united Welsh Tory MPs - although possibly not in the way intended by the prime minister.
Tomorrow, MPs vote on whether to legalise gay weddings. David Cameron and most of the cabinet support the idea, as do senior figures in Labour and Liberal Democrats.
Overall, more than a third of Tory MPs are expected to vote against the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill. In Wales, it looks as if every single Tory MP - all eight of them - will vote in the opposite lobby to their party leader.
Secretary of State for Wales, David Jones, and his deputy, Stephen Crabb, have been consistent in their opposition to the policy, which appears to have alienated many Tory activists across Wales and England.
It is a free vote - on conscience rather than on party lines - so it would be inaccurate to say they are voting against the government but internal divisions on the issue will make it difficult for the Tories to claim the credit for changing the law in the way the prime minister might hope.
The overwhelming majority of Labour MPs support gay marriage, although the former cabinet minister Paul Murphy - a prominent Catholic - is among those who are expected to vote against. Welsh Liberal Democrats Roger and Mark Williams (no relation) support the Bill; their colleague Jenny Willott is on maternity leave. The three Plaid Cymru MPs are also expected to support gay marriage.
The new law prohibits gay ceremonies in the Church in Wales (a device to protect it from claims it is legally obliged to marry anyone who requests it) but the Church could opt in later should its governing body change its mind.