Fresh concerns over appointment of Tony Abbott after claims of conflict of interest
- Credit: PA
There have been fresh concerns raised over the appointment of former Australian prime minister Tony Abbott to the UK Board of Trade after claims of a conflict of interest.
Abbott's appointment as an adviser was overshadowed by fierce reaction from some quarters, including accusations of the politician holding misogynistic and homophobic views and an outdated view on climate change.
But in Australia, where he served in parliament for 25 years, the focus has been switched to how the London-born but Australia-bred politician will balance the interests of the two countries.
You may also want to watch:
The country's shadow attorney general Mark Dreyfus said Abbott's knowledge of the ruling Liberal party and Australian government dealings could present an issue in trade discussions.
- 1 Betty Boothroyd delivers scathing assessment of Boris Johnson's government
- 2 Boris Johnson 'plans to resign' in six months because he can't live on £150k salary
- 3 Government told to publish impact assessments for Boris Johnson's 'Narnia' deal with EU
- 4 House of Lords defies No 10 and votes to heavily defeat Boris Johnson's Brexit bill
- 5 Brexiteer admits 'Australia-style deal' term designed to 'pull wool over voters' eyes'
- 6 Theresa May brands Michael Gove's no-deal Brexit statement 'utter rubbish'
- 7 ERG MP says Boris Johnson should consider cutting ties with Church of England following Brexit row
- 8 Remainers blamed for Boris Johnson's inability to secure Brexit deal
- 9 Labour MP calls Dan Wootton a 'complete and utter nutcase' following Covid-19 herd immunity comment
- 10 Boris Johnson told to apologise for incompetence in delivering his 'oven-ready' Brexit deal
He was quoted in the Sydney Morning Herald saying: 'It's up to the government to explain … how conflicts arising from Mr Abbott's intimate knowledge of Australia's trading interests and strategies, gained during his years as a minister and prime minister, will be managed.'
Abbott has said he was 'only too keen' to help the UK and looked forward to helping facilitate trade deals 'between Britain and other countries, including Australia'.
'A UK-Australia trade deal, maximising the movement of goods, services and people is clearly in the best interests of both our countries,' he tweeted.
'It's important for the wider world that Britain make the most of its post-Brexit opportunities and I am proud to be playing a part.'
'My government finalised trade deals between Australia and China, Japan and Korea. I'm looking forward to bringing that expertise to bear as Britain works towards mutually beneficial improvements with its major trading partners.'
Rex Patrick, an independent senator, replied to a statement from Abbott writing: '@HonTonyAbbott announces he will facilitate UK's negotiation of a trade deal with Australia.
'He will be representing the UK's interests, not Australia's. He makes no mention of his clear obligation to register here as a foreign agent. #disgraceful #auspol'
But Alexander Downer, a former Australian high commissioner to the UK, said the arguments against his ally Abbott did not 'stack up'.
He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: 'He is not a misogynist, he has appointed many women to positions – he was appointed to this position by a woman.
'I don't think it stacks up, I think it's just party politicking.'
The Department for International Trade formally announced on Friday Abbott would form part of the new-look Board of Trade, in what is said to be an unpaid role.
In its announcement, the department stressed advisers to the board would have 'no direct role in striking trade deals'.
Become a Supporter
The New European is proud of its journalism and we hope you are proud of it too. We believe our voice is important - both in representing the pro-EU perspective and also to help rebalance the right wing extremes of much of the UK national press. If you value what we are doing, you can help us by making a contribution to the cost of our journalism.