Lib Dems free vote on gay marriage
Lib Dem MPs will be offered a free vote on the Government's plans to introduce gay marriage, PoliticsHome has learned.
Nick Clegg had previously hinted at a whipped vote on the issue, but sources have confirmed the party will follow Labour and the Conservatives with a free vote.
"Our MPs were clear they wanted to support gay marriage because it was right, not because it was a whipped vote," the Lib Dem source said.
The Deputy Prime Minister last night told PinkNews the whipping arrangements on the vote were "neither here nor there", and insisted the proposals would get a "thumping vote of support" from the party's MPs.
"I’m not going to be illiberal in pushing through a liberal measure. I just fully expect Liberal Democrat MPs will vote in favour of something that we have recently formally adopted as our party policy in the Liberal Democrats," he said at an Out4Marriage event
Meanwhile, UKIP has pledged to exploit the divisions in the Conservative party over gay marriage, warning David Cameron his support for the change is "the final straw" for many supporters.
The Government yesterday set out its plans to introduce same-sex marriage by 2014, but sought to appease Tory rebels by banning the Church of England from conducting the ceremonies.
UKIP leader Nigel Farage told the Guardian the issue had the potential to "rip apart the traditional rural Tory vote".
The Scottish Government has also announced this morning that it is consulting on a draft bill to introduce same-sex marriage.