The openly bisexual, Christian, Liberal Democrat MP, Simon Hughes has criticised the media for overstating the importance of the conversion of former prime minister Tony Blair to Catholicism.

Mr Hughes said: “In the 21st century the news that a former prime minister has moved from one branch of the church to another should not rate major headlines.

“If Tony Blair had changed from Christianity to Buddhism, Islam or Judaism it would be much more significant.

He added: “But if people understand that the old Christian differences are reducing not increasing every year, and that changing from one branch of the church to another, although important, is much like changing from one branch of a store to another, then we would all be better off, including people in the church.”

Data released on Saturday night shows that Britain has more practising Roman Catholics than Anglicans.

Mr Blair converted to the Catholic faith on Saturday after years of privately attending mass.

In his final year as prime minister, Mr Blair’s relationship with the gay community was strained due to his appointment of the devoutly Catholic MP, Ruth Kelly as Minister for Equality and divisions within his own cabinet over Catholic exemptions to gay rights legislation.