Amidst reports today that the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, is set to make a retreat over equal marriage, a Downing Street spokesperson has confirmed to PinkNews.co.uk that such reports are mere “speculation,” and that the PM’s position remains “unaltered.”
Both the Sunday Times (subscription required) and the Daily Mail report today that due to the dramatic swing to the Labour in the recent local elections, and the outcry from Tory backbenchers in its wake, the PM was set to put on hold his plans to extend marriage to same-sex couples.
The Sunday Times quotes one No. 10 source as saying: “Gay marriage is something we genuinely want to do, but because of everything that has happened, now is not the time.”
In addition, the chairman of the Tory backbench 1922 committee, Graham Brady, is expected to ask Mr Cameron and the Tory Chief Whip, Patrick McLoughlin, to back down on equal marriage proposals, citing an unexpected scale of dissent over the issue. Mr McLoughlin is already reported to have said that the proposals will not come to fruition, a claim that still remains unsubstantiated.
However, a spokesperson for Downing Street confirmed to PinkNews.co.uk this morning that “it is certainly not the case” that PM’s commitment to the issue has waned. These “speculations,” the spokesperson said, stem from what would be contained in the Queen’s Speech next week, and whether or not a clause on equal marriage would be inserted therein.
Asked whether indeed such a clause would be included in the Speech, the spokesperson said such details cannot be known or revealed before the occasion itself. She also said that the government consultations into the issue, which will not end until June, meant that until that process is complete, no change in legislations can be brought about anyway.
There never were any plans to bring the legislation for equal marriage forward to this year’s Queen’s Speech, the spokesperson said. This, however, “does not” mean that Mr Cameron is “backing down” or “diluting” his policy on equal marriage, she added.
PinkNews.co.uk also approached the Cabinet Office for a comment from the Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, but have had no responses so far.
However, the Chancellor George Osborne, appearing on BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, suggested that while equal marriage was “not a priority” for the government, he was in favour of the proposals personally. “I think what people are saying is focus on the things that really matter, focus on the economy and on education and welfare. Focus on those things, don’t get distracted by too many other issues,” he said on the show.