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UK Government criticised for appointing former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott to UK Board of Trade

Boris Johnson and the UK Government have been criticised for appointing controversial former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott as an advisor to the UK Board of Trade.

Abbot's appointment has been criticised by many, due to the politician's record of misogyny and homophobia. 

 

“If he wants to know what misogyny looks like in modern Australia, he doesn't need a motion in the House of Representatives, he needs a mirror. That's what he needs.”

Those were the words of Julia Gillard in 2012, the then prime minister of Australia in response to the misogyny of Liberal Party leader, Tony Abbott.

Abbott – who later became prime minister of Australia – had been critical of Peter Slipper, the speaker of the House and a member of Julia Gillard’s Labor Party. Abbott had forwarded a motion for Slipper to be removed from his position after a tape emerged of the sexist and offensive remarks made by Slipper in an audio message.

Gillard hit out at Abbott for his hypocrisy, following a well-documented history of misogynistic statements throughout his political careers, whilst many of his party had made sexist remarks towards Gillard, suggesting her gender made her unfit for office.

Gillard’s speech towards Abbott has hit the headlines again recently following the emergence that Tony Abbott was being considered – and now appointed – by the British government for the Board of Trade, that will advise on policy as Britain transitions away from EU membership.

Abbott was heavily criticised in recent days for his past statements in relation to women, but also on other remarks made towards LGBT+ people and supposed climate change denialism. Abbott has been a relatively vocal supporter of US President, Donald Trump, also garnering criticism from many for his association with a president that has been known to make inflammatory, racist, homophobic and misogynistic remarks.

Tony Abbott had previously described abortion as "the easy way out" and stated that “what the housewives of Australia need to understand as they do the ironing is that if they get it done commercially it’s going to go up in price and their own power bills when they switch the iron on are going to go up”.

The former Australian prime minister, who succeeded Gillard in 2013, was a prominent opponent of same-sex marriage in Australia's 2017 referendum, whilst also describing climate change as “faddish" and claimed the world was "in the grip of a climate cult".

He has also stated that climate change “is probably doing good" and stated that policies aimed towards tackling environmental damage were like "primitive people once killing goats to appease the volcano gods".

The UK Government have defended their decision to appoint Abbott to the trade role, expressing full confidence in Abbott’s ability to serve, whilst the UK prime minister, Boris Johnson, also remarked that “he did not agree with those sentiments”, in relation to past comments by Abbott.

Leader of the UK Labour Party, Keir Starmer, stated that he would not have appointed Abbott for the role, whilst thousands have signed a petition stating that Abbott’s views were disqualifying and urged Boris Johnson not to appoint Abbott.

Scottish Nationalist Party deputy leader, Kirsten Oswald, said the appointment was “beyond indefensible”, before stating: “If holding misogynistic, homophobic, Trump-backing, climate-change-denying views, as well as saying that some elderly people with Covid-19 should be allowed to die, is what qualifies you for a role with this Tory government in promoting the UK internationally then it is not so much Global Britain as it is Little Britain.”

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