Boris Johnson hires Brexit-backing ex-Australian PM Tony Abbott

Boris Johnson hires Brexit-backing ex-Australian PM Tony Abbott to help lead global trade push

  • Ex Australian PM Tony Abbott will become president of the UK’s Board of Trade
  • The 62-year-old will tasked with helping Britain strike trade deals around world 
  • He will hold the role jointly with United Kingdom Trade Secretary Liz Truss 

Tony Abbott, who led the Antipodean nation from 2013-15, is said to have been hired as joint president of the Board of Trade and help shape the UK’s new commerce relationship with the world

A right-wing former Australian prime minister forced out of power by his own party after just two years is to help lead Britain’s post-Brexit global trade mission, it was revealed today.

Tony Abbott, who led the Antipodean nation from 2013-15, is said to have been hired as joint president of the Board of Trade and help shape the UK’s new commerce relationship with the world. 

The Brexiteer’s appointment – to sit alongside Trade Secretary Liz Truss – is yet to be made official but a UK government source told the Sun newspaper ‘we are delighted to have him.’ 

Mr Abbott is a staunch monarchist and friend of Mr Johnson who addressed last year’s Tory Party Conference, warning that failing to leave would be ‘defeat on an epic scale, hardly matched since the Norman invasion’.  

Current Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison last night said the appointment was a ‘good hire’ by Mr Johnson as he seeks trade deals with Australia, New Zealand, Japan and the United States. 

But the appointment of the 62-year-old was blasted by critics who pointed to his record on the environment, women and immigration while in power. He has also spoken out against the Black Lives Matter movement.

Shadow international trade secretary Emily Thornberry said:  ‘Any way you look at it, this is an absolutely staggering appointment.  

Tony Abbott is friends with UK leader Boris Johnson. He uploaded this picture of the pair together after Johnson was made foreign secretary in July 2016

Mr Abbott stands with his wife Margie Abbott (second left) and their daughters Frances (left) Louise Abbott (second right) and Bridget (far right) after winning the 2013 election

‘On a personal level, it is shameful that Boris Johnson thinks this offensive, aggressive, leering, gaffe-prone misogynist is the right person to represent our country overseas. 

‘And on a professional level, this is someone with no hands-on experience of negotiating trade agreements, who denies the climate change that we believe should be at the heart of our trade policy, and who clearly has no concept of the importance of Britain’s trade with the EU.

‘He was ousted by his own colleagues after just two years in power, and rejected by his own constituents just last year. They are the people who know him best, and wanted rid of him, yet here we are now, hiring him to negotiate our trade deals around the world.

‘It’s yet more breathtaking incompetence from a government that has turned it into an art-form.’

The former journalist, who started training to be a Catholic priest before leaving the seminary as a young man, has no background in international trade.

While in office the Australian, who has a British father and was born in England, scrapped the nation’s carbon tax, which sought to control greenhouse gas emission.

He was also widely ridiculed when, as a staunch Royalist, he reintroduced knighthoods to the Australian honours system and made the Duke of Edinbugh one of the first recipients.

In 2015, after two years in the top job, he was ousted by fellow Liberal Party MPs, and replaced by Malcolm Turnbull amid plummeting opinion poll ratings. 

 He lost his conservative seat of Warringah, north of Sydney in New South Wales, by more than 4,000 votes in last year’s elections to an independent former Olympic skier Zali Steggall.

Since losing his Australian Parliament seat in 2019 he has been a keen supporter of Brexit, using a speech in London last year to argue that the country did not need the EU.

Failing to quit would be ‘defeat on an epic scale, hardly matched since the Norman invasion – a national humiliation to echo down the ages, shattering to all who have ever looked to this country for inspiration’, he said.  

Mr Abbott (pictured working as a volunteer fireman) lost his seat in Warringah, on Sydney’s northern beaches, at the federal election in May 2019 and has been looking for a job since then

During Australia’s devastating summer of bushfires, Mr Abbott (left) filled his time by volunteering as a fireman with his local rural fire service branch

‘This is the country that has seen off the Spanish Armada, the French emperor and the German kaiser, [won] against Louis XIV, against Napoleon, against William II, and then against Hitler. This country did not need Europe – it saved Europe,’ he told the Policy Exchange think tank.

‘No country on earth should be more capable than Britain of standing on its own two feet.

‘That, surely is what’s crying out now for remembrance, amidst all the declinism and defeatism – because if Brexit fails, Britain fails’. 

But he has also recently questioned climate change, using an interview with Israeli radio last year to suggest the world was  ‘in the grip of a climate cult’. 

Questions have now been raised about whether Mr Abbott will have to register as an agent of foreign influence under Australia’s transparency laws. 

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