Tory Party grandee, Ann Widdecombe, has urged David Cameron to drop his plans for gay marriage before it becomes a “battleground” issue at the general election.
It needn’t be a U-turn, she says, he can still personally support gay marriage while recognising that redefining marriage is a legal minefield.
Miss Widdecombe, the former Tory MP for Maidstone, says it is better to have “a bit of a row” now “than at the gates of the election”.
Writing in her column for the Daily Express she said: “He does not need gay marriage to be a battleground in May 2015, allying himself with Miliband and Clegg but upsetting his own voters.
“So he should get rid of it now. He does not have to perform an embarrassing U-turn on the principle.
“He can simply say that while he still believes in the policy it has thrown up far more difficulties than first appeared to exist – not least the loss of the terms husband and wife – and that it has an impact on too many other laws.
“Therefore, given the pressing priorities on Parliament’s time it will not be part of his programme in this or the next parliament.
“Of course there will be a bit of a row but it is better to have that now than at the gates of the election.”
Mr Cameron is committed to introducing same-sex marriage by 2015. However, the plans have proved highly divisive and attracted widespread criticism.
Last week Cabinet Minister Eric Pickles said fears that European judges could force churches to conduct gay weddings against their will are “legitimate”.
The Communities Secretary said robust legal protections would be needed if the Government goes ahead with plans to redefine marriage.
And a recent legal opinion by a top human rights lawyer warns that if marriage is redefined teachers and public sector chaplains could be sacked if they refuse to endorse gay marriage.