The British government has reportedly shelved plans to suspend Sunday trading laws for a year after a large number of Conservative MPs, and the opposition Labour Party, opposed them.
A Downing Street spokesman said on Monday that plans to liberalise the law were “under review”, but government sources later told the Daily Mail that the plans had been dropped.
At least 50 Conservative MPs, including former cabinet minister David Jones, had backed a letter calling on the Prime Minister to abandon the plan.
They said changing the law would “harm local shops” by displacing trade to out-of-town superstores.
They added: “Sunday represents an important common day of rest where families and communities can spend time together.
“Keeping Sundays just a little bit special provides an opportunity for communities to come together and individuals to pause, reflect and recharge for the working week ahead.”
Under the current law, in place since 1994, small shops are allowed to operate normal hours on a Sunday, but larger stores can open for no more than six consecutive hours between 10am and 6pm.
Bishop Mark Davies of Shrewsbury had also called on the government to abandon the change, saying Sunday rest is an essential part of England’s heritage and culture.
“So central is Sunday to the Christian life, that for some sixteen centuries public authorities have sought to safeguard Sunday as a day of worship and so a day of rest. From the beginning of the English nation Sunday was so distinguished as a day different to all other days,” he said.
“If degrading Sunday as a day of rest, of family, of community, of worship marginally enhanced our faltering economy it would not be justified because of its deeper impact upon human well-being.”