Australian TV ridicules Britain for hiring Tony Abbott as trade adviser
Mark Nolan / Getty Images

An Australian news presenter said that "beggars can't be choosers" when discussing Tony Abbott's appointment as a senior trade advisor to the British government.

The former Australian prime minister was awarded the role in spite of concerns raised over his past homophobic and misogynistic remarks.

Today anchor Karl Stefanovic commented "well, as they say, beggars can't be choosers" after correspondent Sophie Walsh questioned whether the UK really want someone with Abbott's reputation "representing them on the world stage".

He was met with a stunned silence from Walsh and his co-host Allison Langdon.

Stefanovic then added:

Well, it's not as if there's a whole bunch of people going in there and saying I'm going to represent – you know what I'm saying?

While it's not entirely clear what Stefanovic was insinuating, his comments could have something to do with how unattractive the prospect of organising post-Brexit trade likely looks to most people.

After all, leaked government documents suggest that this task is "proving unmanageable".

On top of this, leaving the EU isn't going as smoothly as Boris Johnson initially promised: in fact, he's threatened to "rip apart" elements of the previously-negotiated Withdrawal Agreement and has admitted that talks with the EU are proving "very difficult".

As such, the UK is once again vulnerable to crashing out of the EU without a deal in January after the Brexit transition period ends on 31 December.

The task is daunting, then, but as Langdon commented on Today: "They can find someone else, can't they?".

Tony Abbott has campaigned against marriage equality for LGBTQ+ people and was famously accused of misogyny by former Australian PM Julia Gillard. He has also been accused of denying the existence of climate change.

As such, several British politicians, celebrities and activists alike have opposed his trade envoy appointment.

Keir Starmer said he has "real concerns" about Abbott's appointment, while Sir Ian McKellen said he's "not fit" for the role.

Ministers defended the decision, with Matt Hancock arguing that Abbott's experience as prime minister of Australia qualified him for the role. But it would seem that even Aussies aren't entirely convinced by their reasoning.

Please log in or register to upvote this article
The Conversation (0)