Mayor of London Boris Johnson has said he doesn’t ‘see what the fuss is about’ when it comes to same-sex marriage.
His comments come on the closing day of the Conservative Party’s annual conference in Birmingham.
The conference has seen some in the party question Prime Minister David Cameron’s support for same-sex marriage, led by former minister Anne Widdecombe and ex-Archbishop George Carey who made headlines by saying some gay marriage supporters were like Nazis.
But Mayor Johnson, widely viewed as a potential rival to Cameron for the Tory party leadership, nevertheless came out to support his boss’s support for equality.
Foreign Secretary William Hague said it was ‘natural’ for the the Conservatives to discuss issues in society such as gay marriage, leading Johnson to repeat his support for the proposed government legislation on the matter.
Johnson said: ‘I have been asked to say something more in favour of gay marriage – and I do so gladly, because frankly I can’t see what the fuss is about.
‘A couple of years ago someone asked whether I supported the idea and I was a bit flummoxed, because I thought it was already legal.
‘In so far as marriage is a legal and secular recognition, by the state, of a union between two people, then that institution needs to move with the times.’
Hague spoke in support of marriage equality after hundreds of other delegates, including Widdecombe and Carey, who took part in a rally to oppose plans to give homosexual couples the right to marry in church – if the religious group involved wanted to do so.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme, William Hague said that members of parliament would vote according to their consciences when the proposals come before the House of Commons.
Hague added: ‘These arguments are treated in a mature way, as you will have seen here at this conference, but all political parties move with their societies, move with the attitudes of their time.
‘Looking at the history of the Conservative party over 200 years, that has always happened; the Conservative party is successful over the centuries because it does reflect the social attitudes of the time, as well as giving necessary economic leadership.
‘The world has changed; it is tougher, it’s not going to change back to how it was 10 years ago. We have to reform education, welfare, a tax system that attracts business to this country, and we are doing those things that wouldn’t be done by our opponents. That’s the heart of the Prime Minister’s message.’