Tony Abbott’s choice as UK trade envoy ‘staggering’, say Labor | Australia News

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Shadow Trade Secretary Emily Thornberry has condemned reports that Boris Johnson is preparing to appoint former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott to a high-level post, calling Abbott a “Trump-worshiping misogynist.”The Commerce Department declined to comment publicly on Wednesday but insisted no decision had yet been made, after The Sun announced that Abbott would be given a leading role in the House of Commons. trade.

Abbott questioned the existence of the climate crisis, suggesting in 2017 that global warming was “probably doing good”, and compared environmental policies to “primitive people killing goats to appease the volcano gods.”

He gave a speech to the right-wing Heritage Foundation in Washington DC in January, saying Donald Trump’s presidency had been “a real success” and his methods were “crass but effective.”

Abbott has been accused of misogyny on several occasions. A mind-boggling parliamentary speech by then-Prime Minister Julia Gillard calling it sexist became an internet phenomenon in 2012.

“I just find this meeting absolutely amazing,” Thornberry said. “On a personal level, I am disgusted that Boris Johnson thinks this offensive, mocking, staunch, climate change-denying, Trump-worshiping misogynist is the right fit to represent our country abroad.

“And on a professional level, he is someone whose only experience of trade agreements came to sign treaties. [the former Australian trade minister] Andrew Robb negotiated for him.

“He was ousted by his own colleagues after two years in power, and kicked out of Australian politics by his own voters last year. These are the people who know him best, and they wanted to get rid of him – and yet here we are, by engaging him to negotiate our trade deals around the world. If it wasn’t so downright humiliating, it would be almost hilarious.

It was not clear whether Abbott would be an adviser or chair the board, alongside Commerce Secretary Liz Truss. The chamber of commerce is supposed to advise the government on negotiating new trade relations after Brexit.

While not commenting on the reports on Abbott’s role, Truss on Wednesday announced appointments to 11 new trade advisory committees, which she said “would bring the UK industry from farmers to automakers closer to our negotiations.”

The Truss Department is widely seen as part of the line of fire during the redesign of No.10 Whitehall. The Foreign Office is already gobbling up the International Development Department, and Johnson was known to have been frustrated when he was Foreign Secretary that he was not given the task of negotiating trade deals.

Aside from criticizing Abbott’s controversial views, questions also arose as to whether the former chief had the expertise for a high-level position in commerce, as complex negotiations loomed.

Mike Rann, former Australian high commissioner to the UK, told Politico: “Britain asking Tony Abbott to conduct its trade talks would be about as credible as Australia asking Gavin Williamson to take charge. its educational system. ”

In 2016, Abbott wrote an article in The Times recommending that British voters choose to stay in the EU rather than vote for Brexit.

“Any British decision to withdraw from the European Union would have seismic consequences,” he wrote. “There is a lot to dislike about the EU, but very little would be improved if Britain left.

It didn’t take long after the vote to go to Abbott to say he was “quietly delighted” with the outcome and give up his former Brexit skepticism, becoming an enthusiastic supporter.

Abbott received recognition in this year’s Queen’s Birthday Honors list, having become a Companion of the Order of Australia (AC) “for his distinguished service to the people and to the Australian Parliament, particularly in as Prime Minister, and through significant contributions to commerce, border control, and the indigenous community ”.

At the time, he said, “This award doesn’t mark the end of my public service, it’s just that it now takes a different form, and I wear a number of different uniforms to do so.

Abbott, who was ousted from his post as prime minister by his colleague Malcolm Turnbull in 2015, was later kicked out of federal parliament last year when he lost his seat from Sydney to Warringah in the election.

Born in London, Abbott, who moved to Australia at the age of two and then studied at Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar in the 1980s, has already been effusive about the shared ties of English-speaking countries .

Speaking at the Oxford Union Society Debate in 2019, he said failing to implement Brexit would represent “a defeat on an epic scale, barely matched since the Norman invasion”.

He forged a close relationship with the British Prime Minister when Johnson was Foreign Secretary. When Johnson won the Tory leadership contest last year, Abbott tweeted that “he has the courage and the passion to keep Britain great”.

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