Tony Abbott's appointment will be 'embarrassment to this country': Emily Thornberry

5 September 2020, 13:08 | Updated: 5 September 2020, 13:16

By Seán Hickey

The Shadow International Trade Secretary warned that the appointment of Tony Abbott as a trade adviser to the government will bring more problems than solutions.

There has been widespread debate over the appointment of former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott as a trade adviser for the government, as his views and comments on homosexuality and abortion have come into question.

Matt Frei argued that the government are "sticking to the line that he's good at trade and he can land the big trade deals," although Shadow International Trade Secretary Emily Thornberry didn't support the stance.

"He may not be the poster boy, but he will be representing us," she began, arguing a person with such views doesn't represent the values of the UK.

"He is somebody who is going to be someone who will be an embarrassment to this country," said Ms Thornberry.

Ms Thornberry argued that if Mr Abbott was taken on to negotiate a trade deal with his native Australia, then his loyalty will be brought into question.

Emily Thornberry feared Tony Abbott's appointment as a UK trade adviser is a bad decision
Emily Thornberry feared Tony Abbott's appointment as a UK trade adviser is a bad decision. Picture: PA

"Which side is he going to be on," she wondered.

"Is he going to be working for Australia or is he going to be working for Britain? He made his reputation as someone who stood up for Australian farmers."

Matt quipped that the Australian government are "asking exactly the same question."

Ms Thornberry concluded "he doesn't have the expertise, he puts his foot in his mouth all the time, he doesn't know about detailed trade negotiations.

"If it's all about him bringing home a trade agreement form Australia then you know, there's always winners and losers - there always has to be compromises. So when it comes to it, whose side is he going to be on?"