Sir Edward Leigh said the policy risked 'devastating lives'

A Catholic MP has criticised calls to introduce “no-fault divorce”, saying it would be a “regressive step” that would hurt the “poorest and most vulnerable” in society.

Sir Edward Leigh spoke out after the Times launched a campaign to change the law so that couples could be granted a quick divorce – that is, in under two years – without assigning blame. Britain’s most senior judge, Baroness Hale of Richmond, president of the Supreme Court, has backed the campaign, saying the “fault-based” system makes an already difficult time harder for families.

But Sir Edward said the evidence from a range of countries – from the United States to Sweden – showed that no-fault divorce had a “demonstrable negative impact on income and educational achievement, with increases in anti-social behaviour. Women become poorer, single mothers have to work longer hours, and children become more disadvantaged.”

He added: “It would be perverse to suggest it’s worth risking devastated lives for the rest of society just to tidy up the legal affairs of those couples who believe their marriage has irretrievably broken down.”