Conservative MP Stuart Andrew has fired back at Ben Bradshaw’s comments that the government’s marriage equality plans are ‘pure politics’, drawing attention the Conservative’s equalities manifesto which first mentioned the move before the election.

Mr Bradshaw, who is in a civil partnership, has come under fire for saying the gay community did not “need the word marriage”, though he said the party would support the move.

Pudsey’s Tory MP said: “Ben Bradshaw is the one playing politics it seems to me.

“The Conservative party was the only main party to mention same-sex marriage before the election in its equalities manifesto. It was a clear pledge and the Government are now acting on it. This is a commitment being acted upon and I’d have thought Mr Bradshaw would welcome it, after all 98% of Pink News readers said they wanted it.

“It’s clear that the only one playing politics here is Mr Bradshaw. This is something we should unite behind and not be used for cheap party political point scoring.”

Mr Andrew had referred to a poll of nearly eight hundred PinkNews.co.uk readers which found 98 per cent in favour of full marriage equality.

Quoted in the Washington Post, Mr Bradshaw had said: “This is more of David Cameron trying to drag the Conservatives kicking and screaming into the modern world.

“This is pure politics on their part. This isn’t a priority for the gay community, which already won equal rights with civil partnerships. We’ve never needed the word ‘marriage’, and all it’s done now is get a bunch of bishops hot under the collar. We’ve been pragmatic, not making the mistake they have in the US, where the gay lobby has banged on about marriage.”

Critics of Mr Bradshaw have pointed out that in the US there are legal benefits at the federal level which are reserved only for married couples, and that at the federal level the US only recognises straight marriages. Gay couples are therefore blocked from certain legal benefits, regardless of their state’s laws, if they do not have access to marriage, unlike British citizens.

Over the weekend, Mr Bradshaw clarified his position, saying in part that he had not “yet heard an explanation as to how what the Government is proposing would be different or better” than civil partnerships and that, while he would support it, it was “not the priority” compared with hate crimes, homophobic bullying and the treatment of LGBT people around the world.

He added: “Changing the words civil partnership to gay marriage when for most people they’re interchangeable anyway – is not my priority. But I’ll vote for it and hope we get it – if only to further expose the prejudice of some of those who oppose it.”

Last month, the Labour MP for Falkirk in Scotland Eric Joyce was given a £3,000 fine and banned from pubs for three months after head-butting Mr Andrew in a House of Commons bar brawl, months after Mr Andrew spoke to the House about being the victim of assault.