Nicola Sturgeon brands Tony Abbott comments on elderly ‘disgraceful’ and says he should not be a UK trade envoy

“If I had anything to do with that decision, he wouldn’t be a trade envoy,” she told Sky News.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has blasted the proposed appointment of former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott to the British Board of Trade.

The embattled former Liberal Party leader has faced widespread criticism for past actions on access to abortion and LGBTQ rights, and caused outrage in recent days after arguing that some older people should not be shielded from Covid-19.

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Speaking on Sky News this morning, Ms Sturgeon said Mr Abbott was "not the kind of person who should be a trade envoy for the UK,” and branded comments he made about elderly people with coronavirus “disgraceful”.

“The death toll in care homes is too high,” Ms Sturgeon told Sky News’ Kay Burley, “and that anyone would take that view is deeply offensive and wrong.

She called Mr Abbott “a misogynist, a sexist and climate change denier” and said “he shouldn’t be any kind of envoy.

"Trade is not separate from the values and the reputation that a country wants to project internationally.

"If I had anything to do with that decision, he wouldn’t be a trade envoy.”

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has blasted the proposed appointment of former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott to the British Board of Trade.

Earlier today UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock shocked some viewers as he defended Mr Abbott’s appointment on the same Sky News programme.

When asked whether it was right to appoint Mr Abbott “even if he’s a homophobic misogynist,” Mr Hancock replied bluntly: “Well, he’s also an expert in trade.”

“So one plays off against the other? Really? Is that what you’re saying health secretary?” asked Ms Burley.

“Well what I’m saying is we need experts in different areas, and somebody who is the former Prime Minister of Australia is obviously an enormous expert in the field of trade. It doesn’t change my views,” Mr Hancock replied.

His comments came after several MPs raised concerns over the appointment of Mr Abbott due to past comments.

Labour Shadow Trade Secretary Emily Thornberry called him “an offensive, leering, cantankerous, climate-change-denying, Trump-worshipping misogynist,” and said he was unfit to hold a position on the British Board of Trade.

And yesterday, Caroline Nokes broke ranks with fellow Conservative MPs, telling BBC Politics Live that Mr Abbott’s likely appointment is “such a bad idea I'm not sure I can come up with words for how awful I think it is.

"He is a misogynist, he has very poor views on LGBTQ rights, I just don’t think this is a man who should be anywhere near our Board of Trade,” said Nokes, who is the chairwoman of the Commons' Women and Equalities Committee.

"Is he the sort of man I want to be representing us globally? No.”

As Prime Minister of Australia between 2013 and 2015, Mr Abbott challenged the legalisation of same-sex marriage in the High Court, and tried, but failed, to limit women’s access to the abortion pill RU-486.

He has also repeatedly expressed doubts about the scientific basis for climate change.

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