Ahead of last night’s vote on the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill, former Labour minister David Lammy was accused of “playing the race card” by staunch equal marriage critic David Burrowes.

It was after the Labour MP for Tottenham, compared the fight for equal marriage to the battle to end slavery in yesterday’s third reading debate.

Denouncing Tory critics of marriage equality, Mr Lammy invoked the abolition of slavery. He said: “They know that this House was split for 20 years on the issue of whether black human beings were human or chattel.

“There were Christians in this House who sought to suggest that black human beings were chattel, and that somehow it was a matter of conscience and we should not end the slave trade.”

David Burrowes, the Tory MP for Enfield-Southgate hit back: “There have been comments that have gone beyond tolerance.”

He accused Mr Lammy of “equating” the position of Christian MPs and others who are against equal marriage with parliamentarians who defended the slave trade some 200 years ago.

“By playing the race card and accusing the bill’s opponents of being in step with the racists and traffickers of years gone by, he is offending not just me — that does not matter — but the majority of the black and minority ethnic communities who are opposed to the bill.”

Mr Lammy responded that he was “greatly saddened” that Mr Burrowes had accused him of “playing the race card”.

Mr Burrowes, who was among 128 Tory MPs to vote against the third reading of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill, denied the claims.

The bill passed its third reading in the House of Commons yesterday with a Commons majority of 205.