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Hancock says he'll take 'hard look' at human rights of allies

Matt Hancock: vows to protect women's and gay rights Photo: PA Images

Tory leadership runner Matt Hancock has vowed to take a "hard look" at human rights of allies if he gets the top job.

The West Suffolk MP said he would "determinedly champion" women's and gay rights, in the UK's relationships with other countries, which he said would be particularly important following Brexit.

Setting out his foreign policy plans in a speech at the Policy Exchange, the Health Secretary pledged to protect "advances" on the issue.

"A government I lead would also take a hard look at all our bilateral relationships to make sure the balance is right on crucial decisions affecting human rights. At a time when we see concerted efforts to roll back gains made in women's rights and LGBTQ rights internationally, any British government must rally like-minded nations to protect and preserve the advances that have been made and go further."

– Matt Hancock

Mr Hancock said British values must be protected in post-Brexit negotiations, adding any trading away of those values would be a failure.

When asked whether a woman's right to abortion would be taken into account in negotiations over a trade deal with the US, Mr Hancock said he was "reluctant" to politicise the issue.

He said: "I'm a very strong supporter of the laws we have here in England and I'm reluctant to go further than that because I'm also very proud that in England this is not a matter of political debate... I think that is one of the remaining virtues in British politics."

Mr Hancock said abortion rights in England should be retained and were "medically, scientifically, clinically led" and "above politics".

Donald Trump has rowed back on his suggestion that access for US firms to the NHS must be part of talks for a post-Brexit trade deal. Credit: PA Images

But Mr Hancock celebrated US President Donald Trump U-turning on comments the NHS would be "on the table" in post-Brexit trade negotiations, which the Health Secretary had immediately condemned.

And he claimed not to be bothered to have been excluded from Mr Trump's meetings and phone calls with rival leadership candidates, including Boris Johnson.