Prime minister Boris Johnson has said decisions about who will be appointed on the new Board of Trade have been made and he former Australian prime minister Tony Abbott will be handed an unpaid trade job from the UK government. Abbott is known for his controversial views on the LGBTQ+ community, women, and climate change. Johnson told the BBC that he did ‘not agree’ with all of Abbott’s views but he ‘didn’t agree with everyone who serves the government’.
He continued Abbott ‘was elected by the people of the great liberal democratic nation of Australia’ and argued this ‘speaks for itself’. Abbott’s openly LGBTQ+ sister Christine Foster previously referred to homophobia claims as ‘nothing short of dishonesty’ and insists that he has ‘respect for others’. However LGBTQ+ activists have urged Johnson to reconsider Abbott’s governmental role as he reportedly stated he felt ‘threatened by homosexuality’ during Australia’s same-sex marriage campaign.
Abbott also said in reference to two female politicians that their ‘sex appeal’ was their main quality. The Labour party has openly denounced Abbott, with leader Keir Starmer saying ‘I have real concerns about Tony Abbott and I don’t think he’s right for the job’. Openly gay actor Sir Ian McKellen is leading a campaign to block ‘unfit’ Abbott from a UK government position, having sent an open letter to the governing body that has also been signed by figures including Russell T Davis and Lord Cashman.