David Cameron grabbed Labour’s £4bn lifeline to save his redefinition of marriage Bill in the House of Commons last night.
The deal to stave off a rebellion means the Prime Minister had to cave in to Labour’s demands for an immediate review of civil partnerships.
That review will include the possibility of opening civil partnerships to heterosexual couples – a move that could cost the country up to £4bn in public service pension rights alone.
And critics say cracking open civil partnerships in this way would further undermine the place of marriage in society.
The three main parties opposed other amendments last night to protect the civil liberty of people who believe marriage should remain as it is.
Although the amendments were defeated, they attracted a strong showing from backbench MPs who rejected their own party’s line.
Cabinet Minister Iain Duncan Smith broke ranks and voted to protect the liberty of conscience for marriage registrars.
Later today MPs will vote on whether the Bill should pass to the House of Lords, where the Bill looks set to face its toughest test yet.
Lord Dear, a highly-respected independent Peer and former police chief, will lead a vote against the Bill in the Lords on 3 June.
The Coalition for Marriage is campaigning to keep marriage as it is, and last night the group’s campaign director reacted to the Commons vote.
Colin Hart said: “We have constantly said this Bill will unravel the place of marriage in our society, now we’ve been proved right.”
“The Government has allowed Labour to attach a £4bn ticking time bomb set to explode after a brief consultation on civil partnerships.”
“Civil partnerships are cracked open to allow in heterosexual couples. It’s yet another twist that wasn’t in anyone’s manifesto.”
“The Government has lost control, marriage has been left in limbo, it’s a complete dog’s breakfast, and the Bill should be dropped before more damage is done.”