THE Conservatives have "pissed off" half their supporters with their handling of Brexit, a senior Tory former minister has said.

There were gasps in the House of Commons as Sir Edward Leigh made the claims, saying they also risk upsetting even more with the "extreme liberal" agenda on changing divorce laws.

The MP for Gainsborough said: "Having pissed off half our supporters by botching Brexit, why are we now irritating the other half with an extreme liberal social agenda?"

Leigh said changes to make it easier for couples to divorce without having to prove either partner is "at fault" would encourage more people to split up.

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He added: "It is the poor, vulnerable, dispossessed children who suffer most from divorce. Will you at least accept this: if you make something easier, it will happen more often?"

Responding, Justice Secretary David Gauke denied changing the rules would lead to an increase in divorces. He said the current system could even prolong failing marriages, making them even more "acrimonious" than they should be.

Gauke said: "The evidence in terms of no-fault divorce is that, in a steady state, there is not a higher rate of divorce than otherwise.

"It is also the case that the current fault-based approach to divorce does result in divorces that are going to happen anyway being more acrimonious than they would otherwise be.

"That is why I believe it is right that we make this reform."