Does Stephen Crabb, the bearded young Tory, really not like gay people?

He’s dropped out, but who is he?

The Tory leadership contest is well underway with candidates vying for air time and the support of their fellow MPs. Stephen Crabb has just bowed out. He won just 34 votes – a far way off Theresa May’s 165, but better, at least, than Liam Fox’s rather pathetic 16. We all know what Gove and May are like – but what about Stephen Crabb, the youngest leadership candidate who sports a well groomed beard?

Stephen Crabb is your less than usual working-class Tory. Born and raised by a single mum in Wales, aided by both the state and his local church, the 43-year-old has been a MP since 2005 in Pembrokeshire. He started his ministerial career in the Wales office, and Crabb is now the Secretary for the Department of Work and Pensions – the benefits office – after Ian Duncan Smith resigned following the fallout over disability cuts.

Crabb’s upbringing was undoubtedly difficult – he’s spoken out about how his father abused his mother, and how he was teased at school for being poor and unable to afford new clothes. Despite his troubles, he made it to Bristol University and graduated in 1995 with a degree in politics.

A relatively young MP, he says he benefited from the best of state education – but he voted to raise undergraduate fees to £9,000 a year. The rugby-playing MP would have been the first Prime Minister with a beard since the 1800s.

flickr: UKTI

flickr: UKTI

A working-class Tory who trumpets his hard-earned roots, Crabb was quick to get his nose into the trough. He used his parliamentary expenses to help pay refurbish one home, which he then sold on, so he could claim on his family home in Pembrokeshire, all the while living in London. He also voted Remain in the referendum, which is the policy exception to his working class background – the majority of his constituency voted to Leave the EU in the referendum.

In the other big vote of this parliament, Crabb voted to bomb Syria after the heated House of Commons debate. As a former junior whip, Crabb knows his party well – he’s close to Sajid Javid, the Business secretary, who has backed him for the Tory leadership.

So, why exactly are people accusing Crabb of being homophobic? The former marketing consultant is a devout Christian. He was sponsored by the Christian Action and Research Centre (CARE) for a parliamentary internship after he graduated. CARE also provided interns for him when he got into Parliament, among other MPs, like now Lib Dem leader Tim Farron. CARE is a controversial group – according to The Guardian, they’ve previously sponsored a conference that promoted the idea of a ‘gay cure’ and had a session called: “Mentoring the Sexually Broken”.

Many MPs distanced themselves from CARE following the controversy – Crabb did not. Although he later told The Telegraph: “I don’t support or endorse any views about ‘gay cure’ theology.” Crabb voted against same-sex marriage’s legalisation, a policy that CARE also fought against, although Crabb has since said that he was very happy with the eventual result.

flickr: Number 10

flickr: Number 10

When asked by the BBC if he regretted employing people from CARE, Crabb dodged the question and called gay cure thinking “reprehensible”.

“I don’t believe that being gay is a sin, I don’t believe it is something to be cured. It’s entirely fabricated. I’ve never said anything at all to suggest that I have ever believed that I endorse gay cure therapy. I don’t agree with the idea. It’s never been part of anything I believe, and certainly not part of my Christian outlook.

“I totally, totally support equal marriage in law and I am playing my part in Government now to contribute and foster a climate and a culture of tolerance and respect. I don’t want anybody in society feeling second best, whether that’s to do with the colour of their skin or their sexuality.”

He accused “political opponents of spreading falsehoods” to undermine his bid for the leadership.