Oz politician tipped for key Brexit trade role wants government to scrap coronavirus restrictions

Former Australian prime minister Tony Abbott speaking at the opening ceremony at the Commonwealth Heads of Government...

Former Australian prime minister Tony Abbott speaking at the opening ceremony at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), at the Nelum Pokuna Theatre in Colombo, Sri Lanka; Chris Jackson - Credit: PA

Coronavirus restrictions should be lifted so that people can make their own decisions about the risks they are prepared to run, the former Australian prime minister tipped to get a key Brexit trade role has claimed.

Tony Abbott, who is reportedly in the running to become joint president of Britain's post-Brexit Board of Trade, questioned whether the measures are proportionate to the disease.

In an address to the Policy Exchange think tank in London, he said: 'From a health perspective, this pandemic has been serious. From an economic perspective, it has been disastrous.

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'But I suspect that, from an overall wellbeing perspective, it will turn out worst of all.

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'Because this is what happens when, for much more than a mere moment, we let fear of falling sick stop us from being fully alive.

'Now that each one of us has had six months to consider this pandemic and to make our own judgments about it, surely it is time to relax the rules so that individuals can take more personal responsibility and make more of their own decisions about the risks that they are prepared to run?'

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He also warned that lockdown measures could be kept up 'indefinitely' in the absence of a vaccine – and said they can produce not just a 'stop-start economy, but a stop-start life'.

Abbott declined to comment on reports that he has been appointed joint president of Britain's relaunched Board of Trade.

Whitehall officials have said that no decisions have yet been made, but the reports were criticised by the opposition.

Emily Thornberry, shadow international trade secretary, said: 'On a personal level, I am disgusted that Boris Johnson thinks this offensive, leering, cantankerous, climate change-denying, Trump-worshipping misogynist is the right person to represent our country overseas.

'And on a professional level, this is someone whose only experience of trade agreements was turning up to sign the treaties Andrew Boff negotiated for him.'

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