LONDON – Abbot appointment prompts backlash

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s plans to appoint former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbot as a trade adviser has prompted a backlash, with critics citing his climate scepticism and lack of expertise on trade.

Abbot, who led the right-wing Liberal party and was prime minister for two unsuccessful years before being ousted in a leadership coup in 2015, has been an enthusiastic Brexit supporter since the UK voted to leave the EU.

Australia is one of a handful of countries with whom the Johnson government has launched talks on a bilateral trade deal.

But the planned appointment, which has not been officially announced, has prompted surprise in some quarters since Abbot has never been personally involved in negotiating a trade agreement.

Labour’s trade spokesperson, Emily Thornberry, described Abbot as “offensive, leering, cantankerous, climate change-denying, Trump-worshipping misogynist.”

(Benjamin Fox |

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