The Scottish National Party (SNP) is claiming a big political scalp after the UK government reportedly "U-turned" on its plans to relax Sunday trading laws amid the threat of a revolt in the House of Commons over the draft legislation. The party's Westminster leader, Angus Robertson, revealed on 10 November that his MPs would make a rare move and oppose the plans for English and Welsh shops.
The nationalist argued it was a legitimate move for the SNP to side with Labour and Tory rebels to out vote the Conservatives' national majority of 17 MPs in the House of Commons because the "legislation will impact on workers in Scotland". Robertson later said SNP pressure pushed the government to rethink the reforms after the BBC claimed ministers had made a dramatic climbdown and "parked" the proposals.
Breaking News: Welcome Sunday trading u-turn by UK govt after pressure from @theSNP to safeguard shop staff pay across Scotland & the UK
— Angus Robertson (@AngusRobertson) November 10, 2015
But Downing Street denied the apparent U-turn and a spokesman told IBTimes UK the government will publish a response to a consultation on the Sunday trading plans "shortly". The development comes after David Cameron was forced to defend the proposals in the Commons on 21 October.
The prime minister claimed the restrictions needed to be "modernised" and a relaxation on Sunday trading hours would benefit families and boost jobs. However, Cameron faces a rebellion from up to 20 Tory MPs, according to David Burrowes. The Conservative MP for Enfield Southgate, who is also an executive member of the influential 1922 Committee, has been leading the campaign against the government's plan.
Stewart Jackson, Sir Roger Gale, Derek Thomas and Nadine Dorries are among some of the other Conservative MPs who have raised concerns about the proposals. Elsewhere, Labour has claimed there is "little appetite" among the public for such changes to the laws.
"We know that shopping habits are changing, not least with internet shopping, but we have been consistent in raising the concerns of small businesses, retail workers and families in speaking out against the Tories who are seeking to make sweeping changes to Sunday trading laws through legislative sleight of hand when there is little appetite for such a change and which was not in the Tory manifesto at the recent general election," said Bill Esterson MP, Labour's shadow minister for small business.
"We welcome that, after months of indecision and delay, the SNP have finally come to a firm position on this issue. This just goes to show that the best way to defend workers' rights and conditions is to maintain unity and work together across the UK."