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‘British Sarah Palin’ is half Maltese

Maria Hutchings, left, on the campaign trail with UK Home Secretary Theresa May in Eastleigh, Hampshire, yesterday. Photo: PA

Maria Hutchings, left, on the campaign trail with UK Home Secretary Theresa May in Eastleigh, Hampshire, yesterday. Photo: PA

She is the polarising UK Tory candidate in a crucial by-election who opposes gay marriage and wants tighter abortion restrictions.... and she is half-Maltese.

Maria Hutchings, 51, has been dubbed the “British Sarah Palin” by newspapers and opponents for her outspoken socially conservative views.

The fiery candidate with a Maltese mother is engaged in a bruising battle to replace disgraced Liberal Democrat MP Chris Huhne in the Eastleigh by-election on February 28.

She will need to overturn a Lib-Dem majority of more than 3,000 to be elected.

The Times attempted to contact Ms Hutchings yesterday for an interview but did not receive a response. It is thought her party was keeping her on a tight leash after several off-message comments she made to the British media created controversy in recent weeks.

Ms Hutchings has said she disagreed with Prime Minister David Cameron’s same-sex marriage proposals as marriage should be between a man and a woman.

A practising Catholic, Ms Hutchings also said she would vote to reduce the 24-week limit on abortions “as far as possible”.

The New Statesmen recently published comments she made in 2005 when she said she did not care about refugees and that increasing numbers of asylum seekers meant “the pot is reduced for the rest of us”.

More unwanted national headlines followed last week when The Mirror reported she said it was “impossible” for her “very gifted” 12-year-old son to get the “right sort of education” in the State system to enable him to become a cardiac surgeon. She later said she was misquoted on this point.

She is also against EU membership, something that, again, puts her at odds with her party leader but reflects the views of many Conservative backbenchers and grassroots activists.

Ms Hutchings is the daughter of a British Royal Fusilier, who died of cancer when she was 16, and a Maltese woman named Victoria, now aged 76.

Last week’s Mail on Sunday quoted her as saying: “I got my work ethic from my mum. She’s Maltese and was a widow in a foreign country but she just got on with it.”

Ms Hutchings’ first marriage to a Maltese man named Tino foundered under the strain of having an eldest child with Asperger’s syndrome and a second child with severe autism, according to the Mail on Sunday. She later met her British husband, Stuart, and had another two children.

The working mother shot to national prominence in 2005 when she verbally confronted then Prime Minister Tony Blair on national TV about the closure of special schools and the possible link between autism and the MMR .

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