BORIS Johnson has said he doesn’t agree “at all” that ex-Australian PM Tony Abbott is homophobic or misogynistic after an onslaught of criticism.
Mr Abbott, who is expected to be appointed to as a trade envoy to the UK, has been attacked from celebs and environmentalist as not being up for the job.
Mr Johnson said this afternoon: “There’s going to be an announcement in due course about the composition of the Board of Trade.
“I obviously don’t agree with those sentiments at all, but I don’t agree with everyone who serves the government in an unpaid capacity on hundreds of boards across the country.
“I can’t be expected to do so. What I would say about Tony Abbott is this is a guy who was elected by the people of the great liberal democratic nation of Australia.
“It’s an amazing country, it’s a freedom loving country, it’s a liberal country. I think that speaks for itself.”
Environmalist and LGBT+ activists and celebs, including Sir Ian McKellen, have demanded Mr Abbott is not given the job.
In an open letter, they wrote: “This is a man who described himself as ‘threatened by homosexuality’, and vigorously campaigned against the ultimately successful referendum in Australia to allow same-sex couples to marry.
“This is a man who has suggested that climate change is ‘probably doing good’, and who downplayed the link between extreme weather and bushfires at the height of this year’s Australian bushfire crisis.”
But Mr Abbott is keen to help the UK secure bumper free-trade deal with Australia after the transition period with the EU ends on December 31.
He said earlier this week: “All I can really say at this time is that it would be in both Britain’s interests and Australia’s interests to conclude a very full and comprehensive free trade deal between our two countries as quickly as possible.”
The ex-PM landed himself in even more hot water by suggesting some countries, including Australia, had become “health dictatorships” over coronavirus and elderly people should be left to die “naturally”.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock was forced to defend him earlier this week after Sky News host Kay Burley attacked Mr Abbott’s record on women and the LGBT+ community.
He said: “I bow to nobody in my support for everybody to love who they love, whoever that is.
“But we need to have the best experts in the world working in their field and as the former prime minister of Australia, he has a huge amount of experience.”