Tony Abbott appointed to UK trade role despite accusations of homophobia

Former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has been appointed to the United Kingdom’s Trade Board. Abbott will serve as an advisor to the UK has they negotiate a series of new trade deals following their decision to leave the European Union.

The appointment has followed a flurry of discussion in Britain about whether the former PM was a suitable person for the role based on his history of statements that have been judged as misogynist and homophobic. The former PM has been labeled a “climate change denier” and has also has been criticised for more recent comments where he suggested where he suggested that it was acceptable for some older people to die from COVID-19.

The last week has seen a succession of UK Ministers defending the proposal to appoint the former Australian Prime Minister. Health Secretary Matt Hancock denied Abbott was either a homophobe or a misogynist during a widely shared interview with Sky News UK.

Breakfast host Kay Burley grilled the Health Secretary on whether Abbott was a suitable person to represent the United Kingdom.

“The proposal is that Mr Abbott supports the UK on trade policy which is an area in which he has a huge amount of expertise. We need to have the best experts in the world working in that field.” Hancock said.

“Even if he’s a homophobic misogynist?” Burley asked.

“I don’t think that’s true,” Hancock replied.

“I’ve just told you what he said. I’m sure you don’t support some of his comments. He’s a homophobe and he’s a misogynist,” Burley said.

“Well he’s also an expert in trade,” Hancock replied.

“So one plays off against the other, is that really what you’re saying Health Secretary, c’mon?” she asked.

“What I’m saying is that we need experts in different areas and the former PM of Australia is obviously and enormous expert in trade,” he replied.

The highly shared interview was just one of a series of interactions where British minister were grilled over the appointment. International Trade Secretary Liz Truss, who is also the Minister for Women, also faced harsh questioning of her support for Abbott’s appointment.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson defended the appointment saying he did not agree with the sentiments being applied to Abbott.

Criticism of the appointment has come from LGBTI rights groups and high profile members of the gay community including television writer Russell T Davies and actor Sir Ian McKellen.

Abbott’s character has been defended by those close to him in Australia. His former Chief of Staff Peta Credlin used her own Sky News program to rally support for Abbott, and also appeared in British media outlets defending Abbott’s record.

“This is the problem with modern left debate – you’re not allowed to be different or wrong, it’s a moral component now and you’re not just wrong, you’re actually bad.” Credlin told talkRadio. Credlin said she saw “hate from the left” as form of praise for the former Prime Minister.

Abbott’s sister City of Sydney councilor Christine Forster said the former PM was none of the things he was being accused of.

“As a woman who has always been part of his life and who came out to him as gay in my early 40s, I know incontrovertibly that Tony is neither of those things,” she wrote on Twitter.

“In reality he is a man of great conviction and intellect; an unabashed conservative but with great compassion, respect for others, and an indelible sense of doing what is right.”

The position in the UK is unpaid and will see Abbott assisting the UK government on their trade negotiations.

OIP Staff

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