Strain is growing on the federal government to rethink the potential appointment of Tony Abbott as a commerce envoy after main LGBTQ+ and environmental activists, together with Sir Ian McKellen, criticised his misogynistic and homophobic feedback, and dismissal of the local weather disaster.
An open letter, additionally signed by the Physician Who screenwriter Russell T Davies and virtually two dozen others, mentioned ministers shouldn’t appoint the previous Australian prime minister to the Board of Commerce.
“It is a man who described abortion as ‘the simple means out’, and prompt that males could also be ‘by physiology or temperament extra tailored to train authority or to situation command’,” the letter says.
“It is a man who described himself as ‘threatened by homosexuality’, and vigorously campaigned towards the finally profitable referendum in Australia to permit same-sex couples to marry. It is a man who has prompt that local weather change is ‘in all probability doing good’, and who downplayed the hyperlink between excessive climate and bushfires on the peak of this yr’s Australian bushfire disaster.”
Whereas Abbott’s appointment had beforehand been assumed to be imminent, Downing Avenue insisted on Thursday that “no choices” had been made, probably opening the way in which for one other U-turn.
Requested concerning the situation on Friday, the transport secretary, Grant Shapps, pressured that Abbott didn’t but have a confirmed position.
“I hate to carry us again to actuality however he hasn’t been appointed to something and so far as I do know there haven’t been any appointments made,” he instructed Sky Information.
“There are many individuals with whom their feedback I vehemently disagree however I’m not into defending people who find themselves not really finishing up any position for the British authorities.”
The hints of a change of thoughts come after the Labour chief, Sir Keir Starmer, raised critical issues about Abbott’s suitability for the position, misgivings echoed by the human rights teams Amnesty Worldwide and Liberty, the Trades Union Congress, the Fawcett Society for ladies’s equality, and the environmental group Greenpeace.
Abbott had been anticipated to hitch the Board of Commerce, a historic physique revived by Theresa Could’s authorities to advise on Britain’s post-Brexit commerce coverage all over the world.
It’s understood his identify was on a listing of potential candidates for the board authorized by No 10 a number of weeks in the past, however a ultimate announcement has since been delayed. The publish is unpaid.
The shadow girls and equalities minister, Marsha de Cordova, has written to her authorities counterpart, Liz Truss, who can be the worldwide commerce secretary, to specific her alarm at Abbott’s “offensive and outdated views”.
De Cordova mentioned she was “disillusioned” at Truss’s personal refusal in parliament on Thursday to reply questions on Abbott’s views, motion for which Truss was reprimanded by the Speaker, Lindsay Hoyle.
Individually, the Guardian has discovered that Emily Thornberry, the shadow worldwide commerce secretary, additionally wrote to Truss.
In a letter copied to the cupboard secretary, Thornberry requested 25 questions, together with whether or not the publish was marketed in accordance with Cupboard Workplace tips, and whether or not the job was mentioned when Truss appeared alongside Abbott at current public occasions.
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