MPs will not get the chance to scrap the controversial 10pm curfew for pubs and restaurants until next week, HuffPost UK understands.
Westminster had been awash with speculation that the government could be defeated and the curfew scrapped amid a major Tory rebellion in a vote on Wednesday.
But HuffPost UK understands MPs will not vote on the curfew until next week, with the Commons instead expected to consider regulations for the Merseyside local lockdown this Wednesday.
Downing Street later confirmed the vote would come next week.
Disgruntled Tory backbenchers believe they have the numbers to defeat the government if Labour also decides to oppose the curfew.
And they appear to have been emboldened by chancellor Rishi Sunak expressing his “frustration” at the measures, which were never discussed by the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage).
One Tory MP, surveying backbench opinion, said: “I don’t know anyone who defends the policy.”
Labour has so far refused to say how it would vote on the curfew, but questioned how it helps stop the spread of coronavirus when people are being forced onto public transport together at 10pm.
Responding to questions from leading Tory rebel Steve Baker, the CEO of UK Hospitality, Kate Nicholls, said the curfew and other restrictions had a “severe and devastating” impact on pubs, restaurants and other venues.
She told the Commons Treasury committee that the sector was facing a “bleak winter”, suggesting drops in revenue from an already low level meant some could slide “into unsustainability very rapidly”.
Nicholls said the sector was facing a “cumulative impact” of the 10pm curfew, table service only rules, work from home advice, and the ban on events and functions.
Noting a third of hospitality revenue is generated between Halloween and New Year, she said high street pub and restaurant sales were down 30-40% year-on-year and 18-24% week-on-week, with suburban and food-led businesses hardest hit.
“Then you’ve got the challenge of everybody out at the same time in the town centre, rather than having a more gradual dispersal as provided for by Northern Ireland, Wales, but also other European countries who have introduced a curfew,” Nicholls said.
“It has had a severe and devastating impact on our businesses and that’s from a very low level of trade as well.”
Commenting after, Baker told HuffPost UK: “It is not clear what the evidence is to support the 10pm curfew or that it is effective.
“With UK Hospitality describing the combined impact of measures as ‘devastating’, the government should think again.”