Minister for Women and Equalities Nicky Morgan says she stands by her decision to vote against same-sex marriage and that she feels Britain is “a basically Christian country”.

The senior Tory, who is also the Education Secretary, declared in an interview that Britain’s education system owed “a massive amount to the Church of England and to the Catholic Church”.

When asked by ConservativeHome about same-sex marriage, the Loughborough MP replied: “Well I stand by my vote in 2013. But yes, obviously, since then, having spoken to lots of different people, and realised quite how excluded people in same-sex relationships felt from the institution of marriage, and marriage is a pretty important institution for our society, I have realised that yes, were the vote to be re-run, I probably would vote in a different way.”

Mrs Morgan added: “I’m afraid to say we had a storm in Loughborough recently with some people who wrote to the Echo criticising me, and saying the most unpleasant things about same-sex relationships. Lots of letters. I’m not sure I want to be allied with that side of the argument.”

Mrs Morgan also went into great detail about her Christian faith. She said: “I have a personal faith, but that’s not going to dominate every decision I make in relation to my constituency or to my ministerial post. But I also think people should be free to be open about their own personal faith. Or lack of personal faith.

“In terms of more broadly, Britain is still, I think, a basically Christian country. The Prime Minister’s said that recently. The King James Bible and many other Christian tracts or Christian practices are a huge source of the things that we believe in this country. You think about the wording from the Bible and the music and art and all sorts of things.

“And as an Education Secretary I’m a huge supporter of faith schools, a huge supporter of Church schools, I think that our education system owes a massive amount to the Church of England and to the Catholic Church. But I also think we can’t ignore the fact that we now live in a country where lots of other religions and none are practised. And that’s why I think that our education system has to offer a broader balanced curriculum and has to open all of our young people’s minds to everything in modern Britain.”

In October, at the PinkNews Awards in Parliament, Mrs Morgan declared her support for same-sex marriage, despite having voted against the legislation last year.

Labour MP Ben Bradshaw subsequently heckled Mrs Morgan during her speech.

The gay politician repeatedly shouted: “You voted against it”. Mrs Morgan – who had failed to mention that she had not voted for the marriage act before the intervention – replied: “I did vote against it yes, absolutely”.

She continued: “But if you are not going to recognise that people actually change their minds then what is the point of this place and this house of democracy and debate?”