Conservative MP calls on Nick Clegg to quit over ‘bigot’ row

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

Peter Bone, the Conservative MP for Wellingborough in Northamptonshire, has called on Nick Clegg to apologise or resign over claims he was prepared to describe the opponents of equal marriage as “bigots” in a speech.

Speaking last night at an LGBT reception in Carlton Gardens, Westminster, Mr Clegg insisted that he never intended to use such language as it was “not the kind of word” he would use.

In an exclusive interview with the deputy PM also defended changes to the Government Equalities Office and the new Culture Secretary Maria Miller.

Mr Bone, who is vehemently opposed to the coalition’s policy on equal marriage, previously describing it as “completely nuts, told the BBC News Channel that if Mr Clegg believed what was said in the original draft of the speech, he was not a “fit and proper person to be deputy prime minister”.

Mr Bone added: “Nick Clegg has got to explain himself and apologise very rapidly, this is not the way the deputy prime minister behaves.”

The Coalition for Marriage, which opposes equal marriage rights for same sex couples described the remarks as “intolerant”.

“It also shows his contempt for the millions of ordinary men and women in this country who oppose the politically correct drive to rip up the centuries old definition of marriage,” its campaign director Colin Hart said.

Former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey, who is also opposed to marriage equality, said the remarks were “very offensive”.

However, human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, who was at last night’s event, said Mr Clegg “should not be afraid” to raise the issue of prejudice as part of the equal marriage debate.