Conservative MP Anne Milton, a former health minister and now a government whip, declined to vote this week on the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill because she did not feel “strongly about it”.

The Guildford MP was among 35 Tories who did not vote on the bill – 136 Conservatives voted against.

Last month, Ms Milton expressed her anger at the decision of anti-gay campaigners to use a photo of the MP on their leaflets without seeking her permission.

Having received more than 1,000 letters against the government’s marriage reforms, Ms Milton told GetSurrey.co.uk “I didn’t feel able to vote on the legislation.”

She continued: “This is the first of four votes and I am going to see what happens in the committee. I’ll know more at the end of that stage.”

Asked what her personal views were on equal marriage, she replied: “I don’t feel strongly about it. If I felt very strongly for it or against it, that’s how I would have voted.

“I’m happy for it to be voted on a second time, which I think will be a good thing. People with views on the issues will have a chance to be heard.

“It’s not fair to say I have fudged it. I didn’t feel able to vote for it but I didn’t feel able to vote against.

“It’s a vote for the bill to be heard a second time.”

On Wednesday, the Business Minister and Conservative MP Michael Fallon, who voted against the bill, said opponents should accept this week’s decisive Commons verdict and that the Conservatives now had to unite.