Communities and Local Government Secretary Greg Clark is expected to meet Conservative MPs today in an attempt to quell Sunday trading rebellion.

  • At least 20 Tory MPs oppose liberalisation
  • Fears longer hours will be bad for family life
  • Scale of opposition could result in defeat of liberalisation plans

The rebel MPs, who number about 20, may join forces with Labour to vote against the extension of shopping hours on Sundays, The Telegraph reported.

The Tory MPs oppose liberalisation because of fears it will be bad for family life and the Church.

The scale of Conservative opposition combined with that of Labour MPs may result in the defeat of the proposal, which Chancellor George Osborne unveiled as part of his Budget.

Conservative MP David Burrowes, who is fronting opposition to liberalisation, told The Telegraph: “It is wrong in principle and wrong in policy and it was not in our manifesto. It is not something that is needed or wanted.

“It does not make sense in principle, in practice and does not make good politics. It is anti-family, anti-small business and anti-workers. It sends out the wrong message.”

The rebels also include Sir Roger Gale, who voted down plans to relax Sunday trading when they were first proposed by Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s.

The changes to Sunday trading rules would allow big stores in England and Wales to extend their hours. At present only small shops can open as they please.

Retailers have mixed views on the issue.

While some are keen to open longer, others believe change would result in the same amount of consumer spending simply spread over a greater length of time.