George Osborne last night placed same-sex marriage at the centre of the Tories’ bid to win the next election.
Invoking the politics of Margaret Thatcher, the Chancellor urged his party to get in step with “people and how they want to live their lives” if they wished to stay in power.
His call came in an analysis of why Barack Obama defeated Mitt Romney in the US election despite rising unemployment and even polls suggesting that the Republican candidate was trusted more to turn the economy around.
Mr Osborne said that the Republicans had lost “swathes of voters” because of their traditionalist positions on social issues.
His comments represent a break from conventional political wisdom about what wins elections summed up by the strategists behind Bill Clinton’s successful 1992 campaign: “It’s the economy, stupid”.
He said the Republicans’ position on abortion had alienated women voters while Mr Obama’s gamble on publicly endorsing gay marriage appeared to have paid off.