Blow for Cameron as 128 Tory MPs vote against gay marriage

Tory opponents of the bill outnumber supporters as just 117 Conservative MPs vote in favour.

Update: The final figures showed that 128 Tory MPs voted against the bill (six fewer than at its second reading), with 117 voting in favour, six fewer than last time round. I've posted a full list of those MPs who opposed the bill below.

MPs have just voted in favour of the third reading of the equal marriage bill by 366 to 161, but in a significant blow to David Cameron, 136 Conservative MPs are thought to have voted against it, including Environment Secretary Owen Paterson and Welsh Secretary David Jones, with just 123 voting in favour. If confirmed, those figures would mean that more Tories opposed the bill this time round than at its second reading, when 134 voted against it (excluding tellers), and that fewer supported it (127 did so last time).

That so many Conservative MPs voted against the bill makes it easier for Labour to claim credit for its passage. In an email to Labour activists earlier tonight, Yvette Cooper urged them to tweet "I'm proud to be part of @uklabour today and proud that we're one step closer to #equalmarriage in Britain."

The Lib Dems have similarly declared that they are "proud to be delivering" equal marriage, but the Conservatives, perhaps fearful of provoking further grassroots anger, are silent.

Conservatives: 128 voted against

Nigel Adams (Selby & Ainsty), Adam Afriyie (Windsor), Peter Aldous (Waveney), David Amess (Southend West), Richard Bacon (Norfolk South), Guto Bebb (Aberconwy), Henry Bellingham (Norfolk North West), Sir Paul Beresford (Mole Valley), Andrew Bingham (High Peak), Nicola Blackwood (Oxford West & Abingdon), Peter Bone (Wellingborough), Graham Brady (Altrincham & Sale West), Julian Brazier (Canterbury), Andrew Bridgen (Leicestershire North West), Steve Brine (Winchester), Fiona Bruce (Congleton), Robert Buckland (Swindon South), Simon Burns (Chelmsford), David Burrowes (Enfield Southgate), Douglas Carswell (Clacton), Bill Cash (Stone), Rehman Chishti (Gillingham & Rainham), Christopher Chope (Christchurch), Therese Coffey (Suffolk Coastal), Geoffrey Cox (Devon West & Torridge), Stephen Crabb (Preseli Pembrokeshire), David Davies (Monmouth), Glyn Davies (Montgomeryshire), Philip Davies (Shipley), David Davis (Haltemprice & Howden), Nick de Bois (Enfield North), Nadine Dorries (Bedfordshire Mid), Jackie Doyle-Price (Thurrock), Richard Drax (Dorset South), Philip Dunne (Ludlow), Charlie Elphicke (Dover), Graham Evans (Weaver Vale), Jonathan Evans (Cardiff North), David Evennett (Bexleyheath & Crayford), Dr Liam Fox (Somerset North), Mark Francois (Rayleigh & Wickford), George Freeman (Norfolk Mid), Roger Gale (Thanet North), Sir Edward Garnier (Harborough), Mark Garnier (Wyre Forest), Cheryl Gillan (Chesham & Amersham), John Glen (Salisbury), Robert Goodwill (Scarborough & Whitby), James Gray (Wiltshire North), Andrew Griffiths (Burton), Robert Halfon (Harlow), Simon Hart (Carmarthen West & Pembrokeshire South), Sir Alan Haselhurst (Saffron Walden), John Hayes (South Holland & The Deepings), Oliver Heald (Hertfordshire North East), Gordon Henderson (Sittingbourne & Sheppey), Philip Hollobone (Kettering), Adam Holloway (Gravesham), Sir Gerald Howarth (Aldershot), Stewart Jackson (Peterborough), Gareth Johnson (Dartford), David Jones (Clwyd West), Marcus Jones (Nuneaton), Chris Kelly (Dudley South), Kwasi Kwarteng (Spelthorne), Jeremy Lefroy (Stafford), Edward Leigh (Gainsborough), Julian Lewis (New Forest East), Ian Liddell-Grainger (Bridgwater & Somerset West), David Lidington (Aylesbury), Peter Lilley (Hitchin & Harpenden), Jonathan Lord (Woking), Tim Loughton (Worthing East & Shoreham), Karen Lumley (Redditch), Karl McCartney (Lincoln), Anne McIntosh (Thursk and Malton), Stephen McPartland (Stevenage), Esther McVey (Wirral West), Anne Main (St Albans), Paul Maynard (Blackpool North & Cleveleys), Stephen Metcalfe (Basildon South & Thurrock East), Anne Milton (Guildford), Nicky Morgan (Loughborough), Anne-Marie Morris (Newton Abbot), David Morris (Morecambe & Lunesdale), James Morris (Halesowen & Rowley Regis), Bob Neill (Bromley & Chislehurst), David Nuttall (Bury North), Stephen O’Brien (Eddisbury), Matthew Offord (Hendon), Jim Paice (Cambridgeshire South East), Neil Parish (Tiverton & Honiton), Priti Patel (Witham), Owen Paterson (Shropshire North), Mark Pawsey (Rugby), Mike Penning (Hemel Hempstead), Mark Pritchard (Wrekin, The), John Redwood (Wokingham), Jacob Rees-Mogg (Somerset North East), Sir Malcolm Rifkind (Kensington), Andrew Robathan (Leicestershire South), Laurence Robertson (Tewkesbury), Andrew Rosindell (Romford), David Rutley (Macclesfield), Lee Scott (Ilford North), Andrew Selous (Bedfordshire South West), Alec Shelbrooke (Elmet & Rothwell), Sir Richard Shepherd (Aldridge-Brownhills), Henry Smith (Crawley), Sir John Stanley (Tonbridge & Malling), John Stevenson (Carlisle), Bob Stewart (Beckenham), Mel Stride (Devon Central), Julian Sturdy (York Outer), Robert Syms (Poole), David Tredinnick (Bosworth), Andrew Turner (Isle of Wight), Shailesh Vara (Cambridgeshire North West), Martin Vickers (Cleethorpes), Ben Wallace (Wyre & Preston North), Robert Walter (Dorset North), James Wharton (Stockton South), Heather Wheeler (Derbyshire South), Craig Whittaker (Calder Valley), John Whittingdale (Maldon), Bill Wiggin (Herefordshire North), Gavin Williamson (Staffordshire South), Jeremy Wright (Kenilworth & Southam)

Labour: 14

Joe Benton (Bootle), Tom Clarke (Coatbridge, Chryston & Bellshill), Rosie Cooper (Lancashire West), David Crausby (Bolton North East), Jim Dobbin (Heywood & Middleton), Brian Donohoe (Ayrshire Central), Robert Flello (Stoke-on-Trent South), Mary Glindon (Tyneside North), Roger Godsiff (Birmingham Hall Green), Paul Goggins (Wythenshawe & Sale East), George Mudie (Leeds East), Paul Murphy (Torfaen), Stephen Pound (Ealing North), Stephen Timms (East Ham).

Liberal Democrats: 4

Sir Alan Beith (Berwick-upon-Tweed), Gordon Birtwistle (Burnley), John Pugh (Southport), Sarah Teather (Brent Central).

DUP: 8

Gregory Campbell (Londonderry East), Nigel Dodds (Belfast North), Jeffrey Donaldson (Lagan Valley), Rev William McCrea (Antrim South), Ian Paisley Junior (Antrim North), Jim Shannon (Strangford), David Simpson (Upper Bann), Sammy Wilson (Antrim East).

Independent

Lady Sylvia Hermon (Down North).

David Cameron leaves 10 Downing Street in London, on February 6, 2013. Photograph: Getty Images.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

Photo: Getty
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After Richmond Park, Labour MPs are haunted by a familiar ghost

Labour MPs in big cities fear the Liberal Democrats, while in the north, they fear Ukip. 

The Liberal Democrats’ victory in Richmond Park has Conservatives nervous, and rightly so. Not only did Sarah Olney take the votes of soft Conservatives who backed a Remain vote on 23 June, she also benefited from tactical voting from Labour voters.

Although Richmond Park is the fifth most pro-Remain constituency won by a Conservative at the 2015 election, the more significant number – for the Liberal Democrats at least – is 15: that’s the number of Tory-held seats they could win if they reduced the Labour vote by the same amount they managed in Richmond Park.

The Tories have two Brexit headaches, electorally speaking. The first is the direct loss of voters who backed David Cameron in 2015 and a Remain vote in 2016 to the Liberal Democrats. The second is that Brexit appears to have made Liberal Democrat candidates palatable to Labour voters who backed the party as the anti-Conservative option in seats where Labour is generally weak from 1992 to 2010, but stayed at home or voted Labour in 2015.

Although local council by-elections are not as dramatic as parliamentary ones, they offer clues as to how national elections may play out, and it’s worth noting that Richmond Park wasn’t the only place where the Liberal Democrats saw a dramatic surge in the party’s fortunes. They also made a dramatic gain in Chichester, which voted to leave.

(That’s the other factor to remember in the “Leave/Remain” divide. In Liberal-Conservative battlegrounds where the majority of voters opted to leave, the third-placed Labour and Green vote tends to be heavily pro-Remain.)

But it’s not just Conservatives with the Liberal Democrats in second who have cause to be nervous.  Labour MPs outside of England's big cities have long been nervous that Ukip will do to them what the SNP did to their Scottish colleagues in 2015. That Ukip is now in second place in many seats that Labour once considered safe only adds to the sense of unease.

In a lot of seats, the closeness of Ukip is overstated. As one MP, who has the Conservatives in second place observed, “All that’s happened is you used to have five or six no-hopers, and all of that vote has gone to Ukip, so colleagues are nervous”. That’s true, to an extent. But it’s worth noting that the same thing could be said for the Liberal Democrats in Conservative seats in 1992. All they had done was to coagulate most of the “anyone but the Conservative” vote under their banner. In 1997, they took Conservative votes – and with it, picked up 28 formerly Tory seats.

Also nervous are the party’s London MPs, albeit for different reasons. They fear that Remain voters will desert them for the Liberal Democrats. (It’s worth noting that Catherine West, who sits for the most pro-Remain seat in the country, has already told constituents that she will vote against Article 50, as has David Lammy, another North London MP.)

A particular cause for alarm is that most of the party’s high command – Jeremy Corbyn, Emily Thornberry, Diane Abbott, and Keir Starmer – all sit for seats that were heavily pro-Remain. Thornberry, in particular, has the particularly dangerous combination of a seat that voted Remain in June but has flirted with the Liberal Democrats in the past, with the shadow foreign secretary finishing just 484 votes ahead of Bridget Fox, the Liberal Democrat candidate, in 2005.

Are they right to be worried? That the referendum allowed the Liberal Democrats to reconfigure the politics of Richmond Park adds credence to a YouGov poll that showed a pro-Brexit Labour party finishing third behind a pro-second referendum Liberal Democrat party, should Labour go into the next election backing Brexit and the Liberal Democrats opt to oppose it.

The difficulty for Labour is the calculation for the Liberal Democrats is easy. They are an unabashedly pro-European party, from their activists to their MPs, and the 22 per cent of voters who back a referendum re-run are a significantly larger group than the eight per cent of the vote that Nick Clegg’s Liberal Democrats got in 2015.

The calculus is more fraught for Labour. In terms of the straight Conservative battle, their best hope is to put the referendum question to bed and focus on issues which don’t divide their coalition in two, as immigration does. But for separate reasons, neither Ukip nor the Liberal Democrats will be keen to let them.

At every point, the referendum question poses difficulties for Labour. Even when neither Ukip nor the Liberal Democrats take seats from them directly, they can hurt them badly, allowing the Conservatives to come through the middle.

The big problem is that the stance that makes sense in terms of maintaining party unity is to try to run on a ticket of moving past the referendum and focussing on the party’s core issues of social justice, better public services and redistribution.

But the trouble with that approach is that it’s alarmingly similar to the one favoured by Kezia Dugdale and Scottish Labour in 2016, who tried to make the election about public services, not the constitution. They came third, behind a Conservative party that ran on an explicitly pro-Union platform. The possibility of an English sequel should not be ruled out.  

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to British politics.