The former Australian prime minister is being touted as having a major role in the UK’s post-Brexit trade talks, with Mr Abbott himself admitting he wants to “help this country out”. His link to the role has drawn wide condemnation from those on the Left, including Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, who said he had “real concerns” over the Australian’s potential appointment. Even Mr Johnson’s own MPs have confessed their discomfort over the London-born politician’s possible job, with some claiming he has shown “misogynist” views in the past, as well as making “homophobic” comments.
But ministers, such as Greg Hands, have defended Mr Johnson’s move, and one leading political expert has claimed the decision could pave the way for new electoral success for the Conservatives.
Simon Tormey, a professor of politics at the University of Bristol, revealed that Mr Abbott “stands symbolically for a set of values and a political orientation which the Johnson Government wishes to endorse and align itself with”.
Prof Tormey described Mr Abbott as an “unapologetic culture warrior”, who is similar to US President Donald Trump’s former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon.
Among his beliefs, Prof Tormey claims, is that “western societies have lost their way and lost confidence in themselves”, while arguing these nations “need to refind its mojo and reassert the superiority of its values and way of life, particularly in relation to the Islamic world and China”.
He said: “The question remains then, what possible use are all these associations to Johnson?”
The professor added: “The answer is surely that ‘culture war’ of a kind articulated quite crudely by Abbott and Trump but also in Europe by the likes of France’s Marine Le Pen, the Netherlands’ Geert Wilders, Italy’s Matteo Salvini and Hungary’s Viktor Orban has shown itself to be popular with voters who don’t normally vote for the right.
“The theme is a great way to draw in working class and precariously employed people who are looking for stronger ‘authority’ figures to deal with what they perceive to be increasingly lawless societies surrendering themselves to immigrants and the multicultural left.”
Mr Abbott’s possible position in the post-Brexit talks would be as a member of the UK board of trade, the BBC reports.
JUST IN: Ministers back former Australian PM Tony Abbott over trade role
However, Prof Tormey concluded in his piece for The Conversation, what such an appointment could mean for Mr Johnson’s future in Downing Street.
He added: “Hiring Abbott will not inoculate the UK government against policy failure, as such.
“But it sends a strong signal to Tory MPs and the wider public that this government wants to be judged less on the flimflam of policy outcomes, over which it has uncertain control, and more on the defence of a certain outlook and a certain way of life that it hopes will chime with the electorate.”