Tory rebel says same-sex marriage bill could pass Commons with a majority of 400

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

Conservative MP Philip Davies, who opposes equal marriage, has told a PinkNews reader that he expects the government’s Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill for England and Wales to pass with a Commons majority of between 300-400.

The West Yorkshire MP, who represents Shipley, was asked by a PinkNews reader on Monday if he had been reassured by Lord Pannick’s recent comments.

Last week, the respected peer and barrister stated that it is “clear beyond argument” that the bill provides watertight protections for religious groups from the threat of legal challenge, if they choose not to provide gay couples with marriage ceremonies.

However, Mr Davies remains unconvinced and replied to the PinkNews reader in an email by saying: “I am afraid that – as ever – the opinion of lawyers is not consistent in this regard, and nobody can predict the verdicts handed out by the European Court of Human Rights and so this makes no difference at all to the way I will vote.”

He added: “However, I am not entirely sure why you should be so bothered about this as this will pass through the House of Commons with a majority of between 300-400.”

Mr Davies has a history of opposing equality measures.

He was accused of wasting the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s time by sending a stream of correspondence to its former chair, Trevor Phillips.

In 2009, one letter to Mr Phillips asked “Is it offensive to black up or not, particularly if you are impersonating a black person?” and “Why it is so offensive to black up your face, as I have never understood this?”

He also asked whether it was racist for a policeman to refer to a BMW as “black man’s wheels”

Mr Davies was called a “troglodyte” (caveman) by Conservative MP John Bercow in 2009 – before Mr Bercow became the current Speaker of the House of Commons.

It was because of Mr Davies’ opposition to debating the Equalities Bill, the effect of the recession on women and International Women’s Day

MPs will vote on the second reading of the government’s Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill next Tuesday (5 February).