DOWNING Street has been branded “morally bankrupt” after the Foreign Secretary told officials the UK should strike trade deals with nations that do not meet European standards on human rights.

Dominic Raab, speaking in a video call which was leaked to the press, suggested his government would not reach many trade pacts in growth markets if it only dealt with nations that meet the level of standards set out in the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

Amnesty International UK said the remarks were "shocking" and fitting of a "depressing pattern on human rights from this Government".

The SNP called it a “new low” for Boris Johnson’s administration.

The comments emerged as the Government comes under pressure not to strike deals with countries suspected of committing genocide.

And it came as ministers published a major review of post-Brexit foreign policy, which includes plans for a "positive trade and investment relationship" with China.

During a question-and-answer session with FCDO staffr Raab said: "I squarely believe we ought to be trading liberally around the world.

"If we restrict it to countries with ECHR-level standards of human rights, we're not going to do many trade deals with the growth markets of the future."

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The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) claimed the audio, published by the HuffPost website, had been "deliberately and selectively clipped to distort" Raab's comments.

It shared more of the Foreign Secretary's response.

"There will be moments, and I can think of behaviour that would cross the line and render a country beyond the pale," he was said to add.

"But fundamentally I'm a big believer in engaging to try and exert positive influence even if it's only a moderating influence, and I hope that calibrated approach gives you a sense that it's not just words – we back it up with action."

Opposition and some Conservative MPs have been pressuring the UK Government over allegations that China is committing genocide against the Uighur minority in the Xinjiang province and human-rights abuses in Hong Kong.

In a Commons statement, Prime Minister Boris Johnson insisted the UK has led international condemnation of China's "mass detention" of the Uighurs and its actions in Hong Kong.

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"There is no question China will pose a great challenge for an open society such as ours," Johnson said. "But we will also work with China where that is consistent with our values and interests, including building a stronger and positive economic relationship and in addressing climate change."

The revelation came on the same day it was revealed the Prime Minister is set to increase the UK’s number of nuclear warheads for the first time since the Cold War as part of new defence plans. It also coincided with the Scottish Parliament voting to incorporate the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child into law.

SNP shadow foreign affairs spokesperson, Alyn Smith MP, said: “The Tory government is morally bankrupt and has given up even pretending to care about human rights.

“The Foreign Secretary’s remarks that the UK will seek to do trade deals with countries that violate standards enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights marks yet another record low for the UK government.

"Rather than upholding the rule of law and human rights, the Tories are intent on cosying up to the despots and violators of the world.

“On the same day the UK Government announced a massive increase in its stockpile of nuclear weapons, the Scottish Government in stark contrast will incorporate the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child into Scots law. The tale of two governments could not be clearer.”

He added: “The question for voters in the upcoming election is simple: who should decide Scotland’s future? A Scottish Government elected by the people of Scotland that focuses on our priorities, or a Boris Johnson Tory government that will waste billions of pounds on weapons of mass destruction?”

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However, the FCDO sought to defend Raab over the leaked audio recording.

A spokesman commented: "We regret that this audio has been deliberately and selectively clipped to distort the Foreign Secretary's comments. As he made crystal clear in his full answer, the UK always stands up for and speaks out on human rights.

"In his full answer, in an internal meeting, he highlighted examples where the UK has applied Magnitsky sanctions and raised issues at the UN regardless of trade interests, and that this was a responsible, targeted and carefully calibrated approach to bilateral relations."

Amnesty International UK director Kate Allen said the leaked remarks "will send a chill down the spine of embattled human-rights activists right across the globe".

"This apparent willingness to sacrifice human rights at the altar of trade is shocking, but sadly unsurprising. It fits a depressing pattern on human rights from this Government," she added.

"Trade is obviously important to all nations, but the Foreign Secretary shouldn't be throwing human right defenders to the wolves like this.

"So-called 'growth markets' – countries like India, Indonesia or Brazil - are often precisely places where human-rights protections are fragile and under threat."