PRIME Minister David Cameron was forced to rely on Labour Party support last night to defeat a rebel Tory amendment that threatened to derail legislation for same sex marriage.
The vote coincided with a sensational new opinion poll, conducted by Survation, which shows Ukip on 22 per cent of the potential vote, nearly level with the Conservatives on 24 per cent.
Labour have 35 per cent, the poll says, with the Liberal Democrats on 11 per cent.
The figures piled more pressure on the Prime Minister, who is under intense pressure from sections of his own party.
Some Tories had tabled an amendment to the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill designed to extent civil partnerships to heterosexuals – causing the government to warn that such a diversion could delay and ultimately derail the whole bill.
The amendment was defeated by a majority of 305, allowing the bill to proceed, yet only after the government convinced Labour into a U-turn.
Ed Miliband’s opposition party had seemed on track to support the amendment, but was convinced by a last-minute plea that such a tactic could ruin any chance of same sex marriage being passed.
“It’s a perfect political storm. It couldn't have come at a worse time for Cameron,” commented Iain Dale, a prominent gay radio presenter and conservative blogger.
Meanwhile Tim Loughton, the Conservative MP who introduced the amendment, said that Cameron’s determination to push for gay marriage “hadn’t helped” relations with his own party.
“It was a mistake,” the MP said.
And David Burrowes, another Conservative lawmaker, said Cameron had misjudged the situation by introducing a bill he said was “an unwanted distraction”.
“I warned him, others warned him. This was self-inflicted,” he said.