David Davis MP signatory to letter saying Cameron has ‘no mandate’ on gay marriage


As reported in The Telegraph;

“Almost 60 members of the Commons and Lords have signed a letter to The Daily Telegraph accusing the Coalition of acting without a mandate.

In a strongly-worded statement, they pour scorn on the Government’s consultation process which they say is mired in doubts over its legitimacy.

And they accuse the Coalition of “ploughing on regardless” in the face of what they describe as an “overwhelming public response” opposition to the change.

Maria Miller, the Culture Secretary, announced plans to allow same-sex couples to marry last week. A bill is expected at the end of January and David Cameron hopes to get the redefinition of marriage through parliament by the summer.

The letter which carries the names of Conservative, Labour and independent members as well as those from smaller parties, marks the launch of a campaign in Parliament to oppose the measure.

Supporters say those who have publicly signed so far represent only a proportion of those likely to vote against when a bill comes before Parliament in the New Year.

Some 137 Conservative MPs, almost half the parliamentary party, are now expected to vote against, based on letters written privately to constituents.

But this is the first time a large number of parliamentarians have publicly signed up to oppose the change.

“At the last election, none of the three main parties stood on a platform to redefine marriage,” they write.

“It was not contained in any of their manifestos, nor did it feature in the Coalition’s Programme for Government.

“These facts alone should have led to extreme caution on the part of those calling for this change to be made.

“Instead the Government is ignoring the overwhelming public response against the plans.

“The consultation has ignored the views of 500,000 British residents in favour of anonymous submissions from anyone anywhere in the world.

“We believe that the Government does not have a mandate to redefine marriage.”

The group includes former ministers such as Sir Gerald Howarth, Tim Loughton and David Davis as well as rising stars of the party such as Rehman Chishti, the Pakistan-born former Benazir Bhutto who once ran as a Labour candidate before defecting to the Tories.

The campaign is being orchestrated by David Burrowes, the Tory MP for Enfield in north London, who once received death threats because of his stance on same-sex marriage.

Supporters in the Lords include Labour’s Lord Anderson and the crossbencher Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury.

The group insist that they value “loving and committed” gay relationships and support civil partnerships but see marriage as “distinctive” and insist the move is “divisive and unnecessary”.

“We understand some parliamentarians support freedom for same sex couples to marry, but we support a freedom from the state being able to redefine the meaning of marriage,” they write.

In a commentary on telegraph.co.uk Mr Burrowes speaks of opponents of same-sex marriage already facing “Orwellian” treatment, such as that meted out to Adrian Smith, the housing trust official from Trafford who lost his managerial position after expressing his view in a personal Facebook posting.

“Last week the Coalition Government announced the beginning of the end of the traditional meaning of marriage,” he writes.

“It also marked the beginning of the Parliamentary campaign which I am leading and supported by a coalition of Parliamentarians across the political spectrum.”

He claims that once gay marriage becomes “state orthodoxy” those who oppose could find themselves “persecuted”.

One of the biggest challenges Mr Cameron faces over this issue is outside Parliament.

Last week Nigel Farage, the Ukip leader, warned the row over marriage could “rip apart” the Tories and said he was planning to put the issue at the heart of his party’s 2014 European parliamentary elections campaign.

But Eric Pickles, the Communities and Local Government Secretary, yesterday accused Mr Farage of being “on the make” and exploiting the issue.

“Now, I used to feel like Mr Farage felt; I used to feel that marriage was just for men and women,” he said.

“Now, about a year or so ago I changed my mind.”

Patrick McLoughlin the Transport Secretary, told The Sunday Politics on BBC One: “I think you have to make decisions in Government, you have to do progressive social legislation and the voters can take their choice when the general election comes.”

“I took a view that what was being proposed was right, the right move as far as allowing people the freedom to marry.””