Monday 8 June 2020 4:51 pm

British public support scrapping Sunday trading laws, says new poll

The government’s plan to allow super markets in England and Wales to open for longer on Sundays has the public’s backing, according to new polling.

A YouGov poll released today showed that 48 per cent of people supported the change, with 31 per cent opposing and 21 per cent unsure.

Boris Johnson is poised to lift Sunday trading restrictions for at least one year to help stimulate the economy in the face of mass jobs losses.

The Sunday Times reported that it would be one of a raft of measures the government will implement to speed up the easing of the lockdown, in the face of figures that show 3.5m jobs are at risk.

The trading laws, which came into place in 1994, limit shops with retail space of over 280 square metres to a maximum of six hours of trading on Sundays.

David Cameron and George Osborne tried to get rid of the restrictions in 2016, but was defeated in a parliamentary vote after 27 Tory backbenchers voted against the government.

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British Chambers of Commerce director general Adam Marshall said changing the laws was a vital step to get the economy moving again.

“Businesses need to be given every possible opportunity to start to generate sales again,” he said.

“If there are rules that can be relaxed to give more companies a fighting chance to trade their way through this crisis without compromising safety, ministers should do everything in their power to make it happen.”

Labour does not support the proposed changes, with shadow foreign secretary Lisa Nandy saying yesterday she is “deeply worried about what this will mean for [workers] in terms of times with their families”.

The changes are also vehemently opposed by the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers (Usdaw).

Some members of the right-wing faction of the Conservative party will likely also oppose any change to Sunday trading on religious grounds.

Speaking to LBC today, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said: “There are many people in the Conservative party who think that you shouldn’t interfere with Sunday trading for various reasons – a day where it isn’t the same as everything else.

“There’s obviously a religious element to it, so we’ll look at what the government says, but I don’t think that one is a Labour, Tory split – there’s a wider difference of views on that one.”