David Cameron has suffered a damaging Commons defeat after Conservative rebels teamed up with Labour and SNP MPs to throw out plans to allow supermarkets and large stores in England and Wales to open longer on Sundays.
The proposals were rejected by 317 votes to 286 – a majority of 31 – despite a last-minute attempt by the Prime Minister to win over Tory MPs who argued the moves would damage family life and threaten the viability of smaller shops.
Twenty-six Conservatives rebelled to inflict the defeat on Mr Cameron, underlining the fragility of his overall majority at the last election.
The vote was also a heavy blow for George Osborne, who had championed the relaxation of Sunday trading laws on the grounds that the move would boost the economy and create jobs. He also argued that liberalisation would help high street shops to compete with online retailers.
In a final attempt to avert defeat, the government floated the idea of giving powers to councils to authorise all-day trading on Sundays on a pilot basis.
However, the compromise failed to win over opponents and MPs of all parties cheered as the plans were rejected by an unexpectedly large majority.
UK news in pictures
UK news in pictures
1/19 24 June 2017
Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn addresses revellers from the Pyramid Stage at Worthy Farm in Somerset during the Glastonbury Festival
2/19 23 June 2017
British Prime Minister Theresa May addresses a news conference at the EU summit in Brussels, Belgium, June 23, 2017
3/19 22 June 2017
Cosplay fans (L-R) George Massingham, Abbey Forbes and Karolina Goralik travel by tube dressed in Harry Potter themed costumes, after a visit to one the literary franchise's movie filming locations at Leadenhall Market in London, Britain
4/19 22 June 2017
Racegoers cheer on their horse on Ladies Day at the Royal Ascot horse racing meet, in Ascot, west of London
5/19 21 June 2017
A reveller walks among the tipi tents at the Glastonbury Festival of Music and Performing Arts on Worthy Farm near the village of Pilton in Somerset, South West England
6/19 20 June 2017
A police officer lays some flowers passed over by a member of the public, close to Finsbury Park Mosque in north London, after one man died and eight people were taken to hospital and a person arrested after a rental van struck pedestrian
The Borough Market bell is seen in Borough Market in central London following its re-opening after the June 3 terror attack
Two women embrace in Borough Market, which officially re-opens today following the recent attack, in central London
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan attends the re-opening of Borough market in central London following the June 3 terror attack
People walk through Borough Market in central London following its re-opening after the June 3 terror attack
News Corp CEO Rupert Murdoch, with one of his daughters, visit Borough Market, which officially re-opened today following the recent attack
A woman reacts in front of a wall of messages in Borough Market, which officially re-opened today following the recent attack, in central London
Vivenne Westwood walks the runway at the Vivenne Westwood show during the London Fashion Week Men's June 2017 collections
Millwall fan and London Bridge hero Roy Larner on 'Good Morning Britain'
Richard Arnold, Roy Larner, Piers Morgan and Susanna Reid on 'Good Morning Britain'
16/19 11 June 2017
England players celebrate after defeating Venezuela 1-0 to win the final of the FIFA U-20 World Cup Korea 2017 at Suwon World Cup Stadium in Suwon, South Korea
17/19 11 June 2017
England players celebrate with the trophy after the final match of the FIFA U-20 World Cup 2017 between Venezuela and England at Suwon World Cup Stadium in Suwon, South Korea
18/19 11 June 2017
Great Britain's Alistair Brownlee celebrates winning the Elite Men Columbia Threadneedle World Triathlon Leeds
Danny Lawson/PA Wire
19/19 11 June 2017
Two men drink beer outside the Southwark Tavern which reopened for business today next to an entrance to Borough Market which remains closed in London
The Government made no secret of its anger over the SNP’s decision to vote against the scheme although shops are already allowed to open all hours in Scotland.
The party justified the move by saying the Enterprise Bill, which contained the proposal, did not enshrine in legislation the premium rates of pay for Scots who work on Sunday.
Sajid Javid, the Business Secretary, condemned the SNP’s “childish and hypocritical actions” and accused it of only being motivated by winning headlines.
The Communities minister, Brandon Lewis, tweeted: “Majority in English and Welsh MPs for Sunday trading. SNP stop rest of country have freedom Scotland has.”
Following the vote, Angela Eagle, the shadow Business Secretary, challenged ministers to abandon their “tawdry attempts” to force the plans through parliament.
The vote marked the second Commons defeat for Mr Cameron since the election. The first came over the “purdah” arrangements facing civil servants ahead of the EU referendum vote.
Larger retailers in England and Wales are currently allowed to trade for six consecutive hours between 10am and 6pm on Sundays, although shops with less than 3,000 sq ft of floor space can open all day.
Under the rejected proposals, councils would be given the power to allow shops to stay open longer if they think there is local demand.Reuse content