Former prime minister Tony Abbott has reportedly been appointed joint president of the United Kingdom government’s Board of Trade.
Abbott would “champion exports and inward and outward investment to deliver economic growth and prosperity” for post-Brexit Britain in the role, according to The Sun.
The former PM would reportedly share the position of president with the UK’s international trade secretary Elizabeth Truss. However, the UK government has not officially confirmed Abbott’s role.
At the unveiling of a defence industry package on Wednesday, Scott Morrison was asked whether Abbott would be required to register as an agent of foreign influence under Australia’s Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme, to which he replied:
“I’ll leave that to the attorney-general to sort out. And I’m sure if there are things, if there’s paperwork for Tony to fill out, I’m sure he’ll get that done. But well done, Boris. Good hire.”
Last year staff from the Attorney-General’s Department asked Abbott to register as an agent of foreign influence due to his appearance at the Conservative Political Action Conference held in Sydney, enraging right-wing activists. Abbott declined.
The Sun has claimed that Boris Johnson asked Abbott to join the board to help secure trade agreements when Brexit has been finalised. Abbott has repeatedly voiced strong support for Brexit in the past.
The UK’s shadow trade secretary Emily Thornberry said the appointment was “downright humiliating”.
“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,” she said.
“He was ousted by his own colleagues after two years in power, and kicked out of Australian politics by his own constituents just last year.
“They are the people who know him best, and they wanted rid of him — yet here we are, hiring him to negotiate our trade deals around the world.”
Welcoming the rumoured appointment, Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage described Abbott as a “talented and deeply principled man”.
— Nigel Farage (@Nigel_Farage) August 25, 2020