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Boris Johnson 'called the French turds' over their Brexit behaviour in BBC documentary

3 min read

Boris Johnson called the French "turds" over their behaviour during the Brexit negotiations, it has been claimed.

According to the Daily Mail, Mr Johnson made the remark while the BBC were making a fly-on-the-wall documentary about his time as Foreign Secretary.

The corporation eventually agreed not to broadcast the comment after the Foreign Office said it would harm Anglo-French relations.

A leaked BBC memo, dated 13 November, says "We negotiated the removal of one potentially awkward moment where the former foreign secretary calls the French 'turds' so as not to distract from the rest of the programme."

However, the BBC did reject the Foreign Office's demand that it removed another part of the documentary where Mr Johnson said France had "shafted" the UK.

A BBC spokesman said: "The programme set out to reflect the realities of life inside the Foreign Office, the production team made judgements about what was in the programme and they are satisfied that the programme achieves its ambitions and has the content they wanted."

The revelation will once again raise concerns about Mr Johnson's tendency to cause controversy by his use of language.

The Tory leadership frontrunner was embroiled in a row last year after claiming Muslim women wearing burkas look like "letter boxes" and "bank robbers".

But speaking at the launch of his Tory leadership bid, Mr Johnson insisted he would continue to speak his mind if he became Prime Minister.

He said: "Of course occasionally some plaster comes off the ceiling as a result of a phrase I may have used or indeed as a result of the way that phrase has been taken out of context and interpreted by those who wish for reasons of their own to caraciture my views," he said.

"But I think it is vital that we as politicians remember that one of the reasons why the public feels alienated now from us all as a breed is because we are muffling and veiling our language. We don't speak as we find and cover it up in bureaucratic language when what they want to hear is what we really think.

"And if sometimes in the course of trying to get across what I genuinely think I use phrases and language that have caused offence then of course I'm sorry for the offence I've caused but I will continue to speak as directly as I can."

Asked during a trip to the G20 summit in Japan if she was aware that Mr Johnson had called the French "turds", Theresa May said: "I believe that whever succeeds me as leader is going to be working with the European Union and with our Parliament to find a way through this to ensure that we can do what we wish to do, which is deliver on the vote of the British people."

Mr Johnson was also quizzed about his comments at the Tory leadership hustings in Exeter on Friday. He said: "I have no recollection of this comment. But I notice that it is not very well sourced this story – anyway.

"The serious question perhaps underlying all this..can I get a fantastic deal from our country from our French friends...yes of course we can."

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