A cabinet minister today contradicted the former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott over his views on homosexuality, climate change and women.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said “I’ve always been a very liberal sort of person,” when he was asked about some of Mr Abbott’s views.
The former world leader fought against the introduction of same-sex marriage in Australia, reportedly described himself as being “threatened by homosexuality” and has also suggested that climate change is “probably doing good”.
He also reportedly said that men are more adapted to “exercise authority or to issue command” and that abortion is “the easy way out”.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps was asked on Sky News if he felt threatened by homosexuality and replied: “Absolutely not”.
Asked if he agreed that men were better suited to lead than women, Mr Shapps replied: “No. One of our greatest prime ministers was a woman.”
On climate change, he added: “Anyone who doubts that the global temperatures are changing and that it has something to do with men and women being on this planet is wrong, so I don’t agree with that either.”
When asked why the Government has chosen Mr Abbott, Mr Shapps cited his track record of negotiating deals in Asia for Australia.
The Secretary of State added: “The UK hasn’t been in the business of negotiating trade deals for 45 years, more now, since that went to the EU to do, so we welcome help and support in doing that but as we say, one of 16 people doing it, he’s not being paid.”
Pressed on Mr Abbott’s comments, Mr Shapps added: “As you’ve already correctly drawn out I don’t agree with any of those three points.
“I’ve always been a very liberal sort of person, I’m really not interested in what people do in their private lives and I certainly believe climate change is real and we have to act on it.
“But I do agree that Britain needs a really good trade deal or trade deals around the world and it’s a great opportunity for the UK and we need expertise in it.
“Here’s somebody who’s got global expertise who was the prime minister of Australia, he’s not just somebody at random and he’s one voice in a whole bunch of different voices unpaid for the role and I think we will be able to secure jobs in Britain by having great trade deals in other parts of the world.”
But Prime Minister Boris Johnson has defended him, heralding his status as a former leader of “freedom-loving” and “liberal” Australia.
Mr Abbott is named as an adviser alongside senior figures from business, academia and government.
Defending himself, Mr Abbott recently said: “Inevitably if you have convictions, you’ll draw criticism. But if you want to get things done you need people with convictions.”