A senior Conservative Party town councillor has quit the party because of his opposition to equal marriage, a bill to legalise which was resoundingly accepted at second reading by a large majority in the House of Commons on Tuesday.

Matty Donnely, who was town councillor for Hexham, Northumberland, quit the Conservative Party because of its backing for equal marriage.

He handed in his resignation following the Marriage (same sex couples) Bill being supported by 400 MPs in Tuesday’s vote.

“I cannot affiliate myself with this. I cannot go along with David Cameron and the rest of them… I was brought up as a Christian and know the difference between right and wrong.

“I was absolutely astounded at the result of the vote on Tuesday and decided to resign from the Conservative party on the spur.”

The 66-year-old will now stand as an Independent in the next local election, Journal Live reports.

The Conservative Party MP for Hexham, Guy Opperman, voted in favour of the measure, and spoke passionately in support of it.

Mr Donnelly attended a meeting with Mr Opperman, and said: “I respect his views and he was quite open and gave straight answers.

“But I am old-fashioned and cannot for the world of me get my head round gay marriage, same-sex marriage, call it what you will.

“I have tendered my resignation to the party branch and will return as an Independent… I have mixed feelings about doing this but I have never been a political person as such. I put people before politics.

“Standing as an Independent is a gamble I am quite prepared to take… I’m born and brought up in the town and the decision will be left up to the constituents… They have always been behind me in the past and I hope they will be behind me now.”

Mr Opperman said: “As a Christian it has taken me a long time to come to this conclusion and I understand that there are, and will continue to be, objections to this proposal.

“However, I believe that society is stronger when we make vows to each other, and support each other through the committed institution of marriage.

“I accept that this extension of the principle is upsetting to some people. However, I believe this is the right approach to take.”

126 Conservatives voted for marriage equality, while 134 voted against while 35 Conservatives including Defence Secretary Philip Hammmond did not vote at all.