Health Secretary Matt Hancock didn’t do very well when he was asked to defend “homophobic misogynist” Tony Abbott in a TV interview.
The former Australiam prime minister is reportedly being lined up to be a joint president of the UK’s relaunched Board of Trade.
Hancock was challenged on this by Kay Burley on Sky News. The video clip shows the health secretary squirming as he realises he has dug yet another hole for the government:
“Tony Abbott is a homophobe and a misogynist”
— Kay Burley (@KayBurley) September 3, 2020
Here’s how Sky reported it on the channel’s website:
Asked about Mr Abbott’s possible appointment, Mr Hancock told the Kay Burley programme: “As far as I understand it, the proposal is that Mr Abbott supports the UK on trade policy, which is an area in which he has got a huge area of expertise.
“I bow to nobody in my support for everybody to love who they love, whoever that is.
“But we need to have the best experts in the world working in their field and as the former prime minister of Australia, he has a huge amount of experience.”
Asked whether he feels that way even if Mr Abbott is, in Burley’s words, a “homophobic misogynist”, the health secretary said: “I don’t think that’s true.”
Pressed again about the former leader’s views, Mr Hancock replied: “Well, he’s also an expert in trade.”
“Well, he’s also an expert in trade.”
That’s the line that did all the damage.
It has created a wave of mocking “Well, he’s also…” tweets on the social media, suggesting other people who were “also” experts in their field that Mr Hancock might welcome to government roles:
Matt Hancock's dream team of experts:
Tony Abbott – trade
Harold Shipman – health
Peter Sutcliffe – lorry driving
Jimmy Saville – charity
Rolf Harris – painting
Fred West – patios
— dave ❄️ 🥕 🧻 (@davemacladd) September 3, 2020
"Rolf Harris is a convicted paedophile".
Matt Hancock "Yes but he was a talented artist".
"Fred West was a serial killer, child abuser and rapist".
Matt Hancock "But he was a great builder".
"Harold Shipman is worst serial killer ever from the UK"
"But he was a great doctor"
— Virgosam (@virgosam70) September 3, 2020
"So health secretary, how did your interview go?"
"Well, it's got Rolf Harris, Harold Shipman, Gary Glitter, Jimmy Saville and Adolf Hitler all trending, so I guess it didn't go quite to plan"
— Paul Simon Duffy 🇪🇨 🇬🇧 🌹 (@paulsimonduffy) September 3, 2020
As I write this, BBC News has just challenged Tory Tom Tudendhat on the same issue. This won’t go away now.
In fact, I’m willing to bet you’ll see Keir Starmer raise it in Prime Minister’s Questions next week and I look forward to hearing the wild – and false – accusation with which Boris Johnson will attempt to defend himself.
Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.
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