British government defies backlash to approve Tony Abbott as new trade adviser

London: The British government has defied a growing backlash over plans to appoint Tony Abbott as a trade adviser by formally approving the former Australian prime minister's new position.

The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age have been told Abbott's appointment to the United Kingdom's Board of Trade will be announced on Friday afternoon, local time.

Tony Abbott appointment is expected to be announced on Friday afternoon, local time.Credit:Getty Images

The list of those who have signed already is notable as it includes figures who rarely speak out on politics when it does not relate to their particular sector, including Ian Green from the Terrence Higgins Trust, Britain's leading HIV and sexual health charity.

It also includes a Tory peer, Lord Hayward, who has become the second Conservative to voice disquiet about the appointment.

Australian actor David Wenham, who co-starred with McKellen in The Lord of the Rings, told The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, "Britain must feel very despondent if their government deems that there is no one in Britain capable of representing them re trade. And then the insult of choosing Tony Abbott, noted primarily for trading in misogyny and homophobia."

Abbott wrapped up his 10-day trip to Europe on Friday and was on his way back to Australia where he said he would go into hotel quarantine.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has described Abbott's new role as a "good hire" by Johnson's government.

"He knows a lot about trade and he did a lot of great work for Australia on trade when it came to the China free trade agreement and Japan and Korea," Morrison told reporters in Canberra on Friday.

"He set Australia up very well and the fact that we now have a current account surplus, that we've had trade surpluses now for record periods of time, I think speaks very well to his trade credentials so I wish Tony well."

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