The Government is facing possible defeat on its controversial Sunday Trading plans following reports that the SNP will vote against them.
The Daily Telegraph reports that last night SNP MPs held a meeting in Parliament, where they agreed to oppose the plans based on how they would affect Scottish workers.
This afternoon MPs are expected to vote on the Government’s proposals, which would give local councils power to extend shopping hours on Sundays.
According to the Telegraph, the SNP held a 20-minute meeting last night where a proposal to vote against the plans passed unopposed.
Stewart Hosie MP, Deputy Leader of the Party, said: “Protecting Scottish workers has been paramount to our decision to oppose the government’s plans on Sunday Trading.”
The MP denied that his Party had done a deal with Chancellor George Osborne, after previous claims that the SNP had agreed to abstain.
Worth fighting for
At the weekend it was reported that up to 50 Conservative MPs could vote against the Government, with two ministers rumoured to be considering resigning over the issue. Labour is also against weakening the law.
If Labour, the SNP, the DUP and rebel Conservative MPs were to collectively vote against the Government, the plans would face certain defeat.
Reacting to reports of SNP opposition, Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn said: “If we march through those lobbies together with a group of Conservatives who share our views – we will win and we’ll keep Sundays as a different day. It’s worth fighting for.”
MPs, churches, pro-family groups, unions and small businesses have spoken out strongly against the proposals. Critics warn that weakening the law would pressurise workers and undermine family life.
The Christian Institute commissioned a legal opinion on the subject, which highlights serious problems with the Government’s plans.
John Bowers QC, a leading authority on employment law, said the plans offer no protection from detriment or dismissal for people who object to working on Sundays during the opt-out notice period.
He also stressed that the Equality Act cannot be relied on to protect Christians and offers no help to non-religious people who just want to keep Sunday as a family day.