More Tory MPs have come out to support an amendment to a trade bill that would make it harder for the government to sign trade deals with countries that have committed genocide.
Former foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt has now backed the amendment, which would force ministers to justify any trade deal that is signed with regimes that British courts judge as having committed genocide.
A similar amendment was tabled by rebel Conservative MPs earlier this year and fell short by just 11 votes, after 33 Tory MPs and opposition parties voted for it.
The new amendment may have enough to support to defeat the government, after foreign secretary Dominic Raab was caught on a recording by civil servants, that was leaked to the Huffpost, saying the UK would not reject trade deals with countries that have poor human rights records.
A source close to the Tory rebels told the Sunday Telegraph it was a “straight fight” between government whips and MPs backing the amendment who are being led by Sir Iain Duncan Smith.
The source said: “This time we really have the votes and the time has now arrived where – against the resistance of the government – the UK will be doing its bit to support the Uighurs.”
A source close to Hunt said: “This might be the last chance to get the genocide amendment. Jeremy feels the government has not listened to the legitimate concerns.”
It comes just a week after the UK appeared to soften its stance toward China in the government’s long-awaited review of foreign and defence policy.
The integrated review was criticised by Tory China hawks for not being tough enough on Beijing.
The review said the UK would “invest in enhanced China facing capabilities”, while adding that “open, trading economies like the UK will need to engage with China and remain open to Chinese trade and investment”.
China was also labelled as a “systemic challenge” in the review and not a threat to security, such a countries like Russia, Iran and North Korea.
Johnson said that “those who call for an new Cold War on China or for us to sequester our economy entirely from China…are I think mistaken”.