Cameron stresses free marriage vote
David Cameron is backing away from a confrontation with hostile Tory MPs over gay marriage, Downing Street has indicated.
Contrary to reports, Number 10 said today that the Prime Minister had no plans to meet MPs to discuss the topic and was stressing a free vote on the issue.
The Prime Minister's Official Spokesman said "The Prime Minister's view is wholly unchanged," adding: "I'm not aware of any plans for the Prime Minister to say anything further on the subject."
Asked if Mr Cameron was set to hold last-minute meetings with his MPs ahead of the vote, the spokesman said: "I'm not aware of any plans at all for the Prime Minister to do that."
Labour's Ed Balls tonight told ITV's The Agenda, broadcast at 10.35pm, that David Cameron was "brave" for pushing forward with equal marriage.
"I think it's brave and he's divided his party in quite a deep way...I'm really pleased he's doing it," he said.
The latest comments follow reports that Mr Cameron is launching a last-minute personal intervention to win backbench support for gay marriage.
Tory waverers are reportedly under mounting pressure to back the Prime Minister, despite the offer of a free vote, amid claims as many as 180 backbenchers could vote against the proposals.
Writing for the Times today, Culture Secretary Maria Miller urges Tories to back the plans, saying it is the "right thing to do now and for the future".
New Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby may also step into the row, with a source telling the Telegraph that he will say marriage is "between a man and a woman, and always has been".