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THE government cannot be trusted to avoid trade deals with countries that commit rights abuses, campaigners said today, as up to 40 Tories were expected to rebel over the Trade Bill.
MPs were debating amendments to the Trade Bill after the proposed legislation was returned to the Commons from the Lords.
As many as 40 Tories were expected to shun the party whip, joining Labour in backing the cross-party Lords’ amendment to prevent deals with countries found by the High Court to have committed genocide and human-rights abuses.
Global Justice Now told the Morning Star: “Not doing cosy trade deals with a genocidal state or human-rights abusers ought to be something that goes without saying.
“Sadly, when we see trade ministers speaking of ’shared values’ with the Philippines president Duterte — who is responsible for killing thousands of citizens or repeatedly breaking arms-sales bans — it is clear why MPs feel the government cannot be trusted on this without putting safeguards in place.
“However, there is an abdication of responsibility in pushing this onto the High Court to make such decisions — and limited solely to the most serious form of human-rights abuse.
“Parliament must have democratic control of trade policy.”
Shadow international trade secretary Emily Thornberry said that MPs who spoke about concerns over human rights in China must also have concerns about other countries that have trade deals with Britain.
She said: “It should and it must also be a debate about the deals that the government has done this month and the deals that it is openly planning to do in the next two years.
“Because anyone who cares deeply about the human rights of China must also have deep concerns about the records of Egypt, Turkey and Cameroon or Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Brazil.”
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