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Tory members leave over gay marriage
DAVID Cameron could face a party leadership challenge, a senior Bucks Tory believes, as the Conservatives were left deeply divided by the gay marriage vote.
Although the bill was approved in The House of Commons, 136 Tory MPs voted against, and another 40 abstained. Less than half - 126 - voted in favour.
Former Wycombe Conservative Association Chairman Bob Woollard, says the strength of feeling on the issue is even greater than Europe and he thinks Mr Cameron may be fought for the Tory top seat before the general election.
Cllr Woollard, from Marlow, was one of 23 senior Conservatives to deliver a letter of protest to the Prime Minister, asking the vote to be delayed.
The Wycombe Conservative Association told the BFP five members had decided against renewing because of their dissatisfaction over same sex marriages.
Cllr Woollard, part of a new Conservative grassroots group, claims the Prime Minister had gone about the bill "in a cavalier way" and called it a "diktat from number 10".
He said: "I think it's an amazing result within the Conservative party, it's a bloody nose for David Cameron and those who have pursued this relentlessly, without proper consultation.
"If you talk to the people at all levels in society and around the UK, as I have in the last few weeks, they're saying what is the matter with Mr Cameron, why is he pushing it so far and so fast?
"People are saying they will never vote Conservative again until there's a change of leadership or the bill is thrown out."
He called the legislation "socialism in disguise".
Asked if he thought MPs might challenge Mr Cameron, he said: "I don't think any challenge will come immediately but I think there could be a challenge before the next election.
"People are more concerned about this than Europe."
He said there were other issues which had caused discontent with his leadership and Tories feel he has not listened.
Cllr Woollard said he and the grassroots group were defending the sacred institution of marriage and congratulated the Bucks MPs who voted against the bill.
Asked if he had the sense that there could be a leadership challenge, Marlow's MP Dominic Grieve said: "I don't get that sense at all. The PM has promoted something and has got a very substantial majority in the commons for it.
"I don't think that's a basis for his leadership being challenged at all. He always made it clear throughout that this was an issue on which we would get a free vote."
Sue Hynard, Wycombe Conservative Association agent, said: "We have had five people recently who have not renewed their membership and who have cited the bill as the reason.
"However, this is balanced by 39 members who have renewed their subscription since the beginning of the year."
The Wycombe association fully backed Mr Baker's vote but did not direct him, she added.
To read the grassroots group's letter visit www.conservativegrassroots.org.uk.
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