Liz Truss claims it's for courts - not government - to define genocide in row over Brexit deals

Liz Truss is questioned by Robert Peston

Liz Truss is questioned by Robert Peston - Credit: ITV

Liz Truss has said it is a "matter for the courts to decide" what genocide is, and not the government, despite having voted to scrap an amendment giving judges the power to do so.

The international trade minister said British courts were best placed to determine the definition of genocide.

The comments come after the government narrowly won a vote against giving UK judges the power to annul trade deals with countries convicted of committing genocide.

A total of 33 Tory backbenchers joined Labour and other opposition parties to vote in favour of passing an amendment to the Trade Bill added by the House of Lords into law. They were narrowly defeated 319 to 308.

This comes hours after outgoing US secretary of state Mike Pompeo said China's treatment of Muslims and ethnic minorities in the Xinjiang region constituted genocide.

Discussing the vote on ITV's The Peston Show, Truss, who voted against the amendment, confusingly said: "It's up to the courts to decide what is and isn't genocide but I'm very clear there are heinous Human Rights abuses in China.

"We're not negotiating a free trade deal with China and parliament has the ability to block any free trade deal.

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She added: "There is a clear role for parliament but it's parliament who should make that decision but not the courts."

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