TWO Conservative MPs have defended their decision to vote against an amendment to the Trade Bill which would have given the High Court powers to revoke trade agreements if a country is found to have committed genocide.

MPs voted on the amendment - proposed by the House of Lords - on Tuesday. Prior to Brexit the European Union had the final say on any trade agreements.

A total of 33 Conservative MPs rebelled by voting to retain the Lords amendment in the Bill, led by former ministers Nus Ghani and Sir Iain Duncan Smith.It was defeated by 319 votes to 308.

One of those who voted to reject the amendment was Workington MP Mark Jenkinson. “This would have automated the revocation by the High Court of England and Wales of trade agreements with partner countries where the court makes a preliminary judgement a signatory to that agreement has committed genocide," he said.

“This would have undermined the separation of powers between the judiciary and parliament, and eroded the royal prerogative powers to conduct international relations.”

He said “it cannot be right” an international agreement scrutinised by Parliament could be revoked by the courts and the Government should conduct international relations, not the High Court.

He added the Government was committed to ensuring its trade policy was consistent with it human rights obligations and took the issue of human rights abuses extremely seriously.

Copeland MP Trudy Harrison said: "The two matters are entirely separate. Judges will take the decision whether genocide has occurred based on all available and credible evidence and we have announced a package of measures to prevent any UK organisation, public or private from being complicit or from profiting in any way from human rights violations in Xinjiang, China.

"This should not be confused with the broader purpose of the Trade Bill, which is allowing a rolling over of existing trade agreements we had within the EU. Going forward, the UK now has the opportunity to capitalise on its independent trading policy. As we have already proven with the comprehensive deal signed by Japan, which gives international recognition for some of Britain's finest produce, such as our very own Lakeland Herdwick Lamb and Cumberland sausages.

"With the newly inaugurated President Joe Biden and Vice-President Kamala Harris in office, the Government is still keen to continue negotiating for a substantial trade deal with our American partners.

"I look forward to this new era for British commerce."