A North West Tory MP who supports gay marriage wants David Cameron to drop the proposal because it is alienating the party’s core voters.
David Mowat, MP for Warrington South, says a former chairman of the constituency association has resigned from the party over the proposal.
He said the Conservatives can’t afford to lose members over this, and “I would be pretty happy if the whole thing got dropped.”
Although Mr Mowat is “moderately in favour” of gay marriage, he says “jobs, growth and the economy” are more important.
He also says he knows of a gay couple in a civil partnership, who are “quite ambivalent about gay marriage, so I think it’s wrong to say it is a touchstone issue for all the gay community”, he said.
Mr Mowat suggested it is dishonest to redefine marriage without having told the voters ahead of the last election.
He said: “It wasn’t in anybody’s manifesto – it seems to have come from nowhere.” He says it would be “more honest” to leave the issue until after the next general election.
In May Northern Ireland Secretary Owen Paterson became the first Cabinet Minister to openly oppose the plans. Other ministers have expressed reservations.
The Governments consultation on redefining marriage closed last month. It is reported to have received more than 100,000 responses.
A grassroots petition calling for the definition of marriage to remain unchanged has been signed by nearly 600,000 people.
However, Nick Clegg recently indicated that he was prepared to ride roughshod over the public’s views and force a new definition of marriage upon the nation.