Government compared to Handforth Parish Council by Tory MP

Iain Duncan Smith in the House of Commons

Iain Duncan Smith in the House of Commons - Credit: Parliament Live

Tory MP Iain Duncan Smith has criticised the government's handling of its post-Brexit trade bill - comparing Boris Johnson's administration to Handforth Parish Council for failing to read the standing orders.

The Brexiteer claimed the government had "deliberately blocked" a showdown with Conservative rebels using "tricks" and "games" to avoid a key vote which could have ripped up any trade deals with countries the High Court has formally accused of genocide. 

But Tory whips claimed that the proposed amendment would have left MPs to decide which countries were guilty of genocide.

Smith accused the government of pettiness, telling the Commons: “It reminds me that this little dispute is a little bit like the Handforth Parish Council one, and it is always a good idea to read the standing orders.

"I have read them, and they tell me what has happened: the government have deliberately blocked this. I am sorry, but that is what this is.

"No point of order on that one; that is the reality. I simply say to my honourable friends that I have been here long enough, and this is beneath them. I wish they had thought again, and I hope they do not try this one again."

He added: “Today should have been a chance to stand tall - to send a signal to those who are without hope all over the world, whether it’s the Uighurs or the Rohingya.

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“Instead of a beacon of light and hope, today what we have done is gone into the dark corridors of procedural purdah.”

The government's own amendment was passed, but Boris Johnson suffered a Tory revolt as his 87-strong majority dropped to just 15 as MPs including Smith, Nus Ghani, and Tim Loughton failed to vote for it.

Ghani commented: “The government knew it was going to lose so has used every tactic and trick in the book to prevent a vote on the New Genocide Amendment.

“The government first says that genocide is a ‘judicial matter’ and then attempts to outlaw the courts from getting involved.

“Now they’re banning parliament from playing a role and voting as well.

“Is this really how we want our country to behave in the face of genocide?"

She added: "The values of our country do not include enriching ourselves on the back of slave labour or using our new-found post-Brexit freedom to trade with states that commit and profit from genocide".

Shadow trade secretary Emily Thornberry said Tory whips were guilty of "shameful, shabby and shifty behaviour".

She added: ”Any future generations who choose to look back will ask themselves why? Why on Earth the government of the day was playing procedural parliamentary games on an issue as serious and momentous as the genocidal crimes being committed against the Uighurs in China."

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