"The proposal, which had not been in the Tories’ 2010 election manifesto, was vehemently opposed by about half of his parliamentary party - who happened also to be the most Eurosceptic - and appalled countless members of local Conservative associations."He continues: "This was seized on by Nigel Farage. I had lunch with UKIP’s leader at that time. I recall… how gleeful he was at the way the gay marriage row was sending shire Tories in droves to switch to UKIP membership. Though Farage himself is a libertarian, and definitely no moralist, he exploited this to the full."
Explaining that David Cameron realised he had upset the Conservative grassroots and saw the looming threat of Ukip, Lawson adds: "So how was he to win back their affections - or at least prevent more mass defection to Ukip? By offering the one thing he thought would ‘shoot Ukip’s fox’ - an in-or-out referendum on our EU membership."
He continues: "Well, the referendum pledge, made in January 2013, probably did appease the local Conservative associations, which were overwhelmingly hostile to EU membership.
"And it meant Cameron was fighting the right of his parliamentary party on only one front, that of the Equal Marriage Bill (which duly passed the Commons in May 2013, despite 133 Tory MPs voting against)."
After noting that David Cameron singled out same-sex marriage as one of the achievements of which he was most proud from his time in office, Lawson concludes: "But I wonder, even as he said that, whether he was thinking: 'If it hadn’t been for gay marriage, I would not now be facing this ruination.'"More stories: Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley kicked off Pride in London in the most fabulous way Gay couple kicked out of Uber for kissing at San Fransisco Pride