Government uses ‘shameful’ tactics to deny vote on trade deals with countries committing genocide

Rob MerrickTue, 9 February 2021, 10:27 am

<p>Uighurs demonstrate in front of the Chinese consulate in December</p> (AFP via Getty Images)
Uighurs demonstrate in front of the Chinese consulate in December(AFP via Getty Images)

Ministers will use “shameful” tactics to dodge a likely Commons defeat designed to prevent trade deals with countries committing genocide, triggering outrage.

Rebel Tories were poised to back a plan for British courts to rule if a deal should be blocked – but an extraordinary procedure is set to deny the vote and hand the decision to parliamentary committees.

Uighur exile said she was “sickened” by the “shameful” tactics, with the revolt aimed primarily at China amid evidence it is committing genocide against the minority Muslim group.

And Tory rebels also expressed outrage, Nusrat Ghani saying she was “appalled at the Parliamentary games played over an issue as grave as genocide”.

Iain Duncan Smith, the former party leader, said: “The sad tragedy is that the government has so engineered it that the democratically elected House of Commons will not be able to vote on Lord Alton’s genocide amendment.”

And Benedict Rogers, the chief executive of Hong Kong Watch, described the tactics as outrageous, adding: “I have never seen a government so afraid to do the right thing.”

The Alton amendment passed in the House of Lords last week with a majority of 171, fuelling the revolt on the Conservative benches ahead of the vote on the Trade Bill on Tuesday.

However, ministers are now coupling that vote with a separate Labour-sponsored amendment to impose further checks before trade deals are signed – diluting Tory support.

MPs are now expected to back a government-backed compromise to give the Foreign Affairs Committee, and a parallel Lords committee, powers to investigate whether a genocide is occurring.

It would then merely make a recommendation to the government about whether a trade deal should go ahead.

But Ms Ghani added: “A select committee can already prepare a report on genocide and the offer is meaningless since genocide can only be determined by a judicial process.”

The genocide allegations against China cannot be referred to the international courts because Beijing has a veto, prompting campaigners to push for a right to refer them to domestic courts.

Pressure is growing on the UK after the US concluded that China is committing genocide – but ministers are determined to preserve their post-Brexit freedoms.

Boris Johnson’s official spokesperson said, on Monday: “The government shares the grave concerns about human rights abuses in Xinjiang.

“On this issue however that amendment could embroil the courts in the formulation of trade policy and the conduct of international relations and risks undermining the separation of powers.

“The amendment put forward by the chair of the select committee, which the government will be supporting, addresses the concerns raised by the parliamentarians to take a stand on credible reports of genocide by a prospective trade partner whilst ensuring a specific duty on the government to act.”

THE BRITISH GOVT IS A SPINLESS GOVT WHO DON’T WANT TO OFFEND CHINA HENCE THE REFERAL TO SELECT COMMITTEES WHO REALLY HAVE NO POWER TO COMPEL THE GOVT TO CHANGE ITS POLICY TOWARDS CHINA. BORIS JOHNSON IS AS SPINELESS AS TRUMP!!!