UKIP – the largest party to oppose redefining marriage – has gained 20 Tory defectors and more than 30 council seats in the past three months.
Roger Arthur, a senior Tory district councillor, switched to UKIP and criticised David Cameron for pursuing issues like gay marriage.
A recent ICM poll for the Sunday Telegraph showed that UKIP’s support for traditional marriage has been a key factor in its recent surge in popularity.
According to the poll, 51 per cent of so-called Conservative-UKIP “switchers” – people who have yet to decide which of the two they will vote for – say UKIP’s policy on same-sex marriage is better than the Tories’.
Just 39 per cent of Conservative-UKIP switchers say the Tories have “the best policy on same-sex marriage”.
Before the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill had its second reading in February, MPs said that voters who opposed the policy were deluging them with letters and threatening to vote UKIP at the next election.
Critics also said that the Conservative Party’s push to redefine marriage is one of the reasons why they came third in the Eastleigh by-election.
Same-sex marriage is ‘drastically unpopular’ with activists and supporters, “who have been less inclined to get out and campaign on the streets because of it”, one Tory MP said.
And the result – which saw UKIP beat the Tories into third – was described as a “humiliating defeat for David Cameron’s ‘modernising’ agenda”, by one commentator.