Prime Minister David Cameron has said in a meeting at the Conservative Party Conference that he made a ‘terrible mistake’ in forcing his party to accept equal marriage, but that he definitely doesn’t regret that the Equal Marriage Bill passed.

He told the meeting that, although he remained a committed supporter of gay marriage, he regretted the trouble the policy had caused and that he underestimated the scale of the opposition from his supporters and religious organisations – specifically the church.

In the House of Commons, almost half of all Tory MPs voted against equal marriage, with many more abstaining.

MPs from other parties were quick to comment, with Shadow Home Affairs Minister Stella Creasy tweeting that she was ‘saddened by Cameron’s regrets re same sex marriage act – difficult conversations for right reasons should be source of pride.’

Adrian Trett is Chair of LGBT+, the Lib Dem group responsible for same-sex marriage being introduced to the Lib Dem manifesto, and its subsequent enactment in law, as well as the same-sex marriage vigils that took place during the campaign. He said: ‘David Cameron never made a claim to the related bill being a Conservative policy in his speeches, and his latest comments highlight how conflicted his party is on the subject.’

However, just a few days ago, while appearing on BBC One’s The Andrew Marr Show, Cameron said that despite the way he pushed his party to accept equal marriage, ‘I don’t regret it. Britain is a more equal and fairer country for having done it.’

‘It’s certainly true to say that this is an important change,’ he added. ‘I don’t think I expected quite the furore that there was. It’s clearly been very difficult for some people to take on, and I completely understand and respect that.’

The Tory leader added: ‘I am passionate about marriage. I think it’s a great institution, and I think it should be available to people who are gay as well as those of us who aren’t.’