Government facing strong prospect of defeat on Sunday trading rules amidst opposition from the SNP and Tory backbenchers

James Nickerson
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MPs will vote on the Enterprise Bill later today (Source: Getty)

The government is facing a strong prospect of defeat on liberalising Sunday trading laws, despite having tried to water down its demands as the Speaker of the Commons didn't call an amendment.

The government was backing down on their plans to force through changes Sunday trading laws over almost certain defeat in the face of strong cross-party opposition. The government was offering to trail longer Sunday trading hours in a handful of areas.

An amendment in the name of business secretary Sajid Javid had been placed offered Tory rebels and the Scottish National Party a deal where the changes would be piloted in 12 areas over the next 12 months.

However, as John Bercow did not raise the proposal for debate, it will not be voted on.

That means the government could face defeat at the hands of the SNP, Labour and some Conservative backbenchers who said they would oppose the changes.

Read more: The campaign against Sunday trading is utterly bonkers

MPs will later today vote on handing control of Sunday trading hours to local councils, which has upset unions and Labour, which say opening hours could be extended by up to six hours.

The SNP has been accused of hypocrisy by the government as its leader Nicola Sturgeon previously pledged not to vote on issues affecting just England and Wales.

However, it says that the plans could impact shopworkers' pay in Scotland.

Conservative MP Grant Shapps, who has campaigned to relax Sunday trading laws, described the SNP's stance as "the most bizarre position I've ever heard".

Read more: Councils handed power to extend Sunday trading

But there are also a number of Conservative backbenchers opposed to the plans, and when they are added to the SNP and Labour, it is very possible the government could face an upset later today.

It had been speculated that the government will not attempt to strong arm its MPs into toeing its line on the issue, given that it needs to garner support amongst them in the upcoming EU referendum.

Meanwhile, the department of business today released figures that showed extending Sunday trading hours would benefit the UK economy by an estimated £1.5bn over 10 years.

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