Anti-LGBT Tory Dr Liam Fox eliminated from PM election race as Theresa May builds lead

Dr Liam Fox has been eliminated from the Conservative Party leadership contest, as candidates vie to replace David Cameron.

Five candidates, Theresa May, Michael Gove, Andrea Leadsom and Dr Liam Fox, had put themselves forward for the vacancy, after the Prime Minister announced his resignation in wake of the EU referendum.

In the first round of voting among the party’s MPs today, Dr Fox was eliminated from the contest with just 16 votes, as the Tories whittle down the field.

Theresa May led on 165 votes, with Andrea Leadsom on 66. Michael Gove amassed 48, while Stephen Crabb garnered 34 votes.

Conservative MPs will hold further votes this Thursday and next Tuesday, narrowing the field to two candidates before balloting party members.

Dr Fox, the MP for North Somerset served as Secretary of State for Defence from 2010. He was forced to quit in 2011 over allegations about the nature of his relationship with close friend Adam Werritty.

The MP, who tied the knot with wife Jesme Baird in 2005, faced an investigation after reports that Mr Werritty had joined him on 19 official overseas trips, and allegations Mr Werritty had improper access to the Ministry of Defence. Fox denied wrongdoing but admitted “errors of judgement” in mixing his professional and personal loyalties.

The Member of Parliament also has one of the worst voting records on LGBT rights among the candidates running, having never voted in favour of any LGBT legislation during his time in Parliament.

Dr Fox voted strongly against same-sex marriage and gay adoption rights, while he was absent on votes on civil partnerships, the abolition of Section 28, gender recognition, an equal age of consent and the Equality Act.

Ahead of the vote on same-sex marriage in 2013, Fox claimed that the proposals were “absurd” and “divisive”.

The former minister said at the time gay marriage that “smacks of a form of social engineering of which Conservatives should be instinctively wary”.

He told a PinkNews reader at the time: “Proponents of same-sex marriage argue that any change is simply a matter of equal rights. I disagree with them.

“I believe that this argument fails to understand the full complexities of the social issues involved.

“If this were simply an argument about righting a wrong, with no other consequences, it would not be creating so much division.”

He claimed at the time: “It proposes to change the definition of marriage for all, for the perceived benefit of a much smaller number.

“Unlike civil partnerships it is not even clear that there is much demand for the change. I have not heard any of the gay friends that I have clamour for same-sex marriage in the way that they demanded the right for civil partnerships.”

Of the remaining candidates, Justice Secretary Michael Gove has a positive record on LGBT rights, while Home Secretary Theresa May has a mixed record.

Work and Pensions Secretary Stephen Crabb has a poor record, having opposed equal marriage and faced criticism over links to anti-LGBT ‘gay cure’ evangelicals, but he attempted to make amends in an interview with PinkNews today.

PinkNews reported this morning that Ms Leadsom, the only candidate running who has not been in the Cabinet, had claimed previously in blog posts that straight adoptive parents should have priority over gay couples in the adoption process.