It is as good as an admission that the Conservative Government habitually lies about its intentions; they didn’t trust their own colleagues to do as they said.
This bodes ill for David Cameron and his gang in the run-up to next week’s budget, and is symptomatic of the issues facing his divided party during the EU referendum campaign.
The Conservatives are split over Europe – we can all see it, and many have explained as much to the pollsters:
Now it seems the split is spreading into other policy areas.
Note also that – although the Tory rebellion was necessary to achieve the defeat (due to the Conservative Party’s majority of seats in the House of Commons), it could not have happened if Labour had not been united against the plan to commercialise what is traditionally a day of rest.
It is well worth remembering that an expansion of Sunday trading would have meant more people working under exploitative conditions such as zero-hours contracts, which have already increased by nearly 500 per cent under David Cameron’s premiership.
No 10 has conceded that its plans to relax Sunday trading laws are dead in the water, after David Cameron suffered his biggest Commons defeat since the election at the hands of his own Conservative MPs.
The government’s attempt to let larger shops trade for longer than six hours each Sunday was voted down after 27 Tory backbenchers teamed up with Labour and the SNP.
It lost by 31 votes after Cameron failed to reach a compromise with unconvinced MPs, who argued that it was necessary to “keep Sunday special” and protect family time for shop workers.
The defeat is the second of this parliament in the Commons for Cameron, and the first major one since his failure to win a vote on military action in Syria in 2013. His first loss of the parliament was a vote won by Tory Eurosceptics and Labour over the “purdah” rules governing the EU referendum in September.
But the real damage to the government was done by 27 of [his] MPs, whose rebellion underlined Cameron’s weakened grasp over his parliamentary party and highlighted the fractious mood of backbenchers in the run-up to next week’s budget and June’s referendum on membership of the European Union.
The defeat was particularly painful because ministers had offered to significantly water down the plans by rolling them out in only 12 pilot areas, in a last-ditch attempt to stave off the rebellion.
However, the government submitted its amendment too late to the Speaker, John Bercow, and MPs were unwilling to accept a promise by Brandon Lewis, a communities minister, that the concession would be introduced in the House of Lords.
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