Ex-Australian PM Tony Abbott lashes out at coronavirus lockdown rules

UK’s ‘new Brexit trade envoy’ ex-Australian PM Tony Abbott says more elderly Covid patients should be allowed to die by ‘letting nature take its course’

  • Tony Abbott today said ‘we let fear of falling sick stop us from being fully alive’
  • He called for lockdown rules to be eased so people make their own decisions
  • He also confirmed he is in talks with UK ministers about taking on a trade role 

Ex-Australian prime minister Tony Abbott today suggested coronavirus lockdowns come at too high a price and nature should be allowed to ‘take its course’ for more elderly victims of Covid-19. 

Mr Abbott, who has been widely tipped to take on a post-Brexit trade role for the UK Government, told an event in London that ‘it’s a bad time for anyone with the virus, but it is also a bad time for people that would rather not be dictated to by officials’. 

He said the current pandemic had forced governments to ask the question ‘how much is a life worth’.  

But he argued that while ‘every death is sad’ that has ‘never stopped families sometimes electing to make relatives as comfortable as possible while nature takes its course’. 

Mr Abbott railed against lockdown rules as he called for them to be eased and for people to make more of their own decisions about the risks posed by coronavirus. 

He said ‘surely it is time to relax the rules so that individuals can take more personal responsibility’. 

He later confirmed that he is in talks with the UK Government about taking on a post-Brexit trade role. 

He has been widely tipped to become the joint president of Britain’s relaunched Board of Trade.

Ex-Australian PM Tony Abbott has been widely tipped to take a post-Brexit trade role with the UK Government

Speaking at a Policy Exchange think tank event, Mr Abbott was quoted by the Guardian as saying: ‘It’s a bad time for anyone with the virus, but it is also a bad time for people that would rather not be dictated to by officials, however well meaning.

‘In this climate of fear it was hard for governments to ask “how much is a life worth?” because every life is precious, and every death is sad, but that has never stopped families sometimes electing to make relatives as comfortable as possible while nature takes its course.’

Mr Abbott questioned whether lockdown measures were proportionate to the harm done by the disease.  

He said: ‘From a health perspective, this pandemic has been serious. From an economic perspective, it has been disastrous.

‘But I suspect that, from an overall wellbeing perspective, it will turn out worst of all.

‘Because this is what happens when, for much more than a mere moment, we let fear of falling sick stop us from being fully alive.

‘Now that each one of us has had six months to consider this pandemic and to make our own judgments about it, surely it is time to relax the rules so that individuals can take more personal responsibility and make more of their own decisions about the risks that they are prepared to run?’

He also warned that lockdown measures could be kept up ‘indefinitely’ in the absence of a vaccine – and said they can produce not just a ‘stop-start economy, but a stop-start life’.

Mr Abbott declined to comment at the event on reports that he has been appointed joint president of the UK’s relaunched Board of Trade. 

However, he later told the Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee that he is in talks with ministers about taking a role with the British Government. 

International Trade Secretary Liz Truss is expected to become the president of the relaunched Board of Trade

‘I have had some discussions with members of the British government,’ he said. 

‘I am more than happy to help but there is nothing official as yet.’

The prospect of Mr Abbott joining the Board of Trade has sparked a backlash, with Labour’s international trade spokesman Emily Thornberry describing him as an ‘offensive, aggressive, leering, gaffe-prone misogynist’.

It is thought International Trade Secretary Liz Truss will be president of the board, while Mr Abbott – who was forced out of power by his own party in 2015 after just two years in charge – will be appointed to an advisory role.  

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