A Tory MP today urged her colleagues to “show what British values are about” by backing a rebel plan to curb the Government’s ability to agree trade deals with nations declared to have committed genocide.
Former minister Nus Ghani told the Standard that MPs had a “very simple choice to make” today ahead of knife-edge vote in the Commons.
A Tory rebellion, led by Ms Ghani and former party leader Iain Duncan Smith, focuses on a “genocide amendment” to the Trade Bill.
The proposal would enable English courts to rule on whether China’s persecution of its Uighur Muslim minority amounts to genocide.
It could force the Government to seek parliament's permission before pressing ahead with any trade deal with China.
Ms Ghani told the Standard: “Today, MPs have a very simple choice to make. Do we want the UK to be empowered to do something about genocide or to do nothing?
“In the 75 years since the Nuremberg trials, the UK has never recognised a genocide while it was happening.
“And even the UN has always failed to recognise a genocide until it’s too late.
"It is in a state of frozen paralysis – held hostage by Russia and China - and incapable of holding genocidal states to account.
"If we don’t support this amendment today, we will be outsourcing all future decisions on genocide to Russia and China.
“Today is our first chance to show what British values are about. As we form trade deals we must never let economic concerns trump ethical ones."
🔵 // What is the vote tomorrow about? Listen to Sir Iain Duncan Smith:
"It is about sending a signal...that those who are persecuted and oppressed will be able to find their day in court." @MPIainDS @MaajidNawaz @lukedepulford @Nus_Ghani
@BoardofDeputies @MahmutRahima pic.twitter.com/VlfXTzKT8M
— Jewish News (@JewishNewsUK) January 18, 2021
The amendment has already been passed by the House of Lords and the vote today is expected to be close.
Government sources have expressed sympathy with the rebels’ stance, according to the Telegraph.
But a source told the paper: “Trade deals are a matter for politicians, not judges.”
In the Commons last week, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab dismissed the amendment as "well-meaning" but also "rather ineffective and counter-productive".
Minister for Trade Policy Greg Hands has pointed out the UK does not have a trade deal with China, “nor is there a realistic prospect of one”.
With the opposition parties all supporting the amendment, a rebellion of around 40 Tory MPs could put the Government at risk of defeat.