The push to redefine marriage has been branded a ‘crazy, vote-losing obsession’, an “embarrassment”, and “bad politics”, by three national newspapers.
The Sun said the Conservatives were in “a wilderness of dismal poll ratings and vicious Tory civil war”, triggered by David Cameron’s “own lily-livered leadership, casual arrogance and suicidal political instincts”.
The Daily Telegraph criticised Mr Cameron’s “insensitive” push for the change, saying it “fuelled that impression that he is part of a privileged clique that looks upon ordinary members as ‘swivel-eyed loons'”.
And the Daily Mail described the Conservative Party as “clattering” and said its leader was “utterly at odds with traditional Tories” over the issue.
The Times, which supports redefining marriage, also aired a note of caution.
It said: “If the Prime Minister was correct to introduce gay marriage he should have done more to address the concerns of those who worry about the clash that sometimes occurs between gay rights and religious beliefs.”
In its editorial, the Sun newspaper said same-sex marriage is part of a “misguided drive” which is sidetracking David Cameron, and is “hardly” one of Britain’s “most urgent concerns”.
The Telegraph said the same-sex marriage issue had prompted an “ugly battle” with Tory grassroots, and the paper noted: “Wherever one stands on gay marriage, this was bad politics”.
And the Mail commented that the “gay marriage legislation, for which there is no public clamour whatever, has been an embarrassment”.
The stinging criticism followed David Cameron doing a £4 billion deal with Labour to stave off a rebellion over gay marriage in the House of Commons.
The deal meant 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.