Boris Johnson defends sexist, homophobic, misogynist, climate change denier Tony Abbott

Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Photograph: Andrew Fox/Daily Telegraph/PA Wire.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Photograph: Andrew Fox/Daily Telegraph/PA Wire. - Credit: PA

Boris Johnson has defended Tony Abbott as being a 'guy who was elected by the people of the great liberal democratic nation of Australia'.

Asked during a visit to Solihull about allegations the Australian former prime minister, who is set to receive a trade role, Johnson said: 'There's going to be an announcement I think in due course about the composition of the Board of Trade.

'I don't, obviously don't agree with those sentiments at all, but then I don't agree with everyone who serves the government in an unpaid capacity on hundreds of boards across the country.

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'And I can't be expected to do so.

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'What I would say about Tony Abbott is this is a guy who was elected by the people of the great liberal democratic nation of Australia.

'It's an amazing country, it's a freedom-loving country, it's a liberal country. There you go, I think that speaks for itself.'

LGBT charity Stonewall has expressed concern about the potential appointment.

Eloise Stonborough, head of policy and research at the charity, said: 'We are profoundly concerned by the potential impact of Abbott's appointment.

'The UK has long been a world leader in LGBT rights but the 2020 ILGA-Europe rankings show the UK slipping to ninth place among European countries, from first place in 2015.

'The appointment of an individual with known homophobic and misogynist views risks undermining the Government's commitment to 'defend and promote the rights of LGBT people globally'.'

Prominent LGBT figures including Sir Ian McKellen and Doctor Who writer Russell T Davies have signed an open letter alongside environmental activists to ask the government to reconsider.

The letter, first reported by ITV News, said: 'This is a man who described abortion as 'the easy way out' and suggested that men may be 'by physiology or temperament more adapted to exercise authority or to issue command'.'

It added that Abbott 'vigorously campaigned' against Australia's successful marriage equality referendum in 2017 and said climate change is 'probably doing good'.

'For all these reasons and more besides, this man is not fit to be representing the UK as our trade envoy,' the letter added.

It concluded: 'If the Government is truly committed to an outward-looking future for Britain, to tackling climate change and to creating an equal society for all, it should reconsider its proposed appointment.'

Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, who also signed the letter, said appointing Abbott would 'send the wrong signal'.

He told the PA news agency: 'Abbott's opposition to LGBT+ equality, denial of the dangers of climate change and suggestion that men are more suited than women to exercise power is not only offensive but harmful to Britain's image.'

He added: 'Given his poor record on green issues, it is feared that he will negotiate trade deals that water down environmental protections. He is the wrong man for the job.'

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