Senior Tory MP says Tony Abbott not fit to take role of key Brexit trade official

Caroline Nokes appears on Politics Live. Photograph: BBC.

Caroline Nokes appears on Politics Live. Photograph: BBC. - Credit: Archant

A senior Tory MP has slammed the government for the 'awful' idea to hire Australia's former prime minister Tony Abbott to the role of a key Brexit trade official.

Downing Street is said to be in talks with Abbott to become a senior member of a new trade board that will advise Liz Truss, the trade secretary on future negotiations following Brexit.

Appearing on the BBC's Politics Live, the chair of the women and equalities committee Caroline Nokes said: 'This is such a bad idea I'm not sure I can come up with words for how awful I think it is.

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'[Labour shadow trade secretary] Emily Thornberry and I seldom agree on anything, but she's right. He's a misogynist he has very poor views on LGBT+ rights, and I just don't think this is a man who should be anywhere near our Board of Trade.

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'Is he the sort of man I want to be representing us globally? No.'

Thornberry had hit out at Abbott's 'long track record of sexist, sleazy and misogynist behaviour'.

Truss. who also is the government's women and equalities minister, last week tried to defend the government's bid to woo Abbott despite his past remarks.

She last week: 'What I'd say about Tony Abbott is he's a former prime minister of Australia. Australia is a key ally of the United Kingdom, and he has done a very good job in areas like trade.'

Asked about recent comments from politicians in recent days, Abbott defended his political views against the criticisms.

He told an audience at a Policy Exchange think tank event: 'I've been a member of parliament for a long time, I was in public life for a long time… inevitably, if you have convictions you'll draw criticism. But if you want to get things done.

'You need people with convictions. If you lack convictions, it's very hard to get things done now.

'Obviously I can comment on any position which is not yet official. But certainly, I think that it's in Britain's interest and it's in Australia's interests that this [a] free trade deal will be done as quickly as possible.'

He added he would not comment on the new role saying it was 'not yet official'.

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