Independents need to remain vigilant and keep up the pressure against extending Sunday trading hours.

That is the message from former environment secretary Caroline Spelman MP and former defence minister Sir Gerald Howarth MP, two of the Tory politicians opposing the government’s plans.

“I don’t think it’s completely off the agenda, there’s a possibility it could come back as part of the Enterprise Bill,” Mrs Spelman said. “It’s very important the pressure is maintained and the facts keep being repeated about the detrimental impact it could have on smaller retailers.”

Sir Gerald added: “People need to be vigilant. My advice to retailers is to get hold of your MP and make your voice known. I’ve made it clear we should not mess with something we hammered out 25 years ago and I do not see anything has changed to warrant another upheaval. I think if the chancellor feels there are too many Conservatives opposed, he’ll drop it.”