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The Prime Minister won his first Commons battle to legalise same-sex marriage by a margin of 400 votes to 175.
But his victory came at the cost of a major split in the Conservative Party, with more than half of his MPs refusing to back him.
Despite his 11th-hour appeal for support, only around 130 of the 303 Conservative MPs last night joined Mr Cameron in voting for gay marriage. 139 voted against and 30 others abstained.
Among the Tories voting against the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill were several ministers, including two Cabinet members: Owen Paterson, the environment secretary, and David Jones, the Welsh secretary.
Other ministers included David Lidington, the Europe minister, Andrew Robathan and Mark Francois from the Ministry of Defence, and Jeremy Wright, a justice minister.
Tory opponents later accused Mr Cameron of dividing the party and vowed further parliamentary resistance to the controversial changes.
David Burrowes, a leading backbench opponent of the bill said the Tory resistance to the Prime Minister’s plans was “unprecedented”.
He said: “We are divided, as is the country. It is unprecedented to have so few Government MPs voting against a Government bill.”
After six hours of often emotional debate, the House of Commons on Tuesday night approved Government plans for same-sex marriage by a margin of 400 votes to 175.
The historic result was greeted by applause from campaigners in the public gallery of the Commons.
Mr Cameron, who described gay marriage as “an important step forward for our country”, smiled broadly as the result was revealed. Nick Clegg called the vote “a landmark for equality in Britain”. Ed Miliband said it was “a proud day”.
However, the details of the vote quickly showed that Mr Cameron’s decision to push through the legislation has left him in a minority within his own party over the issue.