FORMER Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has been handed a senior UK government trade role.

The controversial appointment was confirmed  tonight, following days of pressure on Boris Johnson to deny him the job.

Mr Abbott has been accused of homophobia and sexism, but has now become an adviser to the Board of Trade.

He previously said equal marriage was a matter of ‘political correctness’, suggested climate change was "probably doing good" and his alleged sexist comments were the detailed in the Australian parliament by then-prime minister Julia Gillard.

Gillard castigated him for his numerous offensive comments in what is now referred to as 'The Misogyny Speech'. 

The Prime Minister defended the decision, and said he couldn’t be expected to agree with the views of every person sitting on official boards.

He also claimed that the UK would “prosper mightily” even if talks over a trade deal with the EU collapsed.

International Trade Secretary Liz Truss said: “The new Board of Trade will play an important role in helping Britain make the case for free and fair trade across the UK and around the world." 

Nicola Sturgeon and Keir Starmer are among those who raised concerns before the appointment.

Ms Sturgeon previously said Mr Abbott's coronavirus views were "deeply offensive and wrong" and he was not fit to be a trade envoy.
She said: "But Tony Abbott, before these comments, is a misogynist, he's a sexist, he's a climate change denier.
"Trade, in many respects, should reflect our values - there should be ethics attached to any country's trading profile."

Mr Starmer said earlier this week: "I have real concerns about Tony Abbott and I don’t think he’s the right person for the job.

"If I was prime minister I wouldn’t appoint him.”

Labour MP David Lammy tweeted this evening that the Government "just don't care" in response to the appointment.

He wrote: "Earlier in the week the government as much as admitted Tony Abbott is a homophobe and a misogynist. They just don’t care."

Mike Russell MSP and Scottish Government constitution secretary, added: "Couldn’t be clearer that the Prime Minister is as usual out of touch with public opinion except in his own murky back woods and moreover revels in it.

"But why worry if he insists on putting key matters in the hands of what we would call in Scots 'dunderheids '?"