Three weeks before the general election David Cameron's spokesperson sent a letter to campaign group Keep Sunday Special assuring them that the Conservatives had no plans to relax Sunday trading laws.
Exactly two months after the election George Osborne announces government plans for round-the-clock Sunday shopping, which will be included in tomorrow's emergency budget.
April 20: The Prime Minister's Conservative party spokesperson wrote: “I can assure you that we have no current plans to relax the Sunday trading laws. We believe that the current system provides a reasonable balance between those who wish to see more opportunity to shop in large stores on a Sunday, and those who would like to see further restrictions.”
July 7: George Osborne said: “Even two decades on from the introduction of the Sunday Trading Act, it is clear there is still a growing appetite for shopping on a Sunday. There is some evidence that transactions for Sunday shopping are actually growing faster than those for Saturday.
"The rise of online shopping… also means more retailers want to be able to compete by opening for longer at the weekend. But this won’t be right for every area, so I want to devolve the power to make this decision to mayors and local authorities.”
The plans, set to be announced in tomorrow's Budget and be included in the government's Enterprise Bill over the next 10 months. They signal the biggest shake-up of Sunday trading laws for 20 years and the Chancellor predicts it will lead to a significant economic boost.
However the liberalisation has already run into opposition from unions and is also likely to face opposition from religious groups and some Tory MPs.
John Hannett, secretary general of the shopworkers’ union Usdaw, said he would trade unions will campaign against it, claiming there will “not be any economic benefits”.
He said the move was “very disappointing” and will put pressure on existing employees, while the Keep Sunday Special group accused the government of trying to "fundamentally alter the balance and harmony of our national life in such a underhand manner".
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