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Portillo withdraws Mitchell pleb claims

Michael Portillo has withdrawn a claim that he heard Andrew Mitchell use the word "pleb" in private - claiming he got "carried away".

Last night, the Conservative former Cabinet minister declared: "I have heard him use that word in private conversation - the pleb word, I mean."

But the former politician now says he has no recollection of hearing the word pass the lips of his ex-colleague.

"I seem to have misspoken," he said after his comments were widely reported.

"I had no right to say that."

Asked why he had made the claim, he said: "I think I got carried away in the heat of the moment. I did not mean to say it and I want to withdraw it."

Portillo: 'I've heard Andrew Mitchell use word the pleb'

Andrew Mitchell has used the word "pleb" in private conversation, a former Cabinet minister said - but he did not believe it was something the former chief whip would have said in public.

Michael Portillo said he has heard Andrew Mitchell has used word 'pleb'. Credit: Zak Hussein/PA Wire

Michael Portillo suggested police officers might have picked the word as one that people would readily believe had been uttered by Mr Mitchell.

"I have heard him use that word in private conversation - the pleb word, I mean," Mr Portillo told BBC1's This Week.

"I didn't believe he could have used it at the gates."

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Michael Portillo: 'Very important' to opt out of Europe

Former cabinet Minister Michael Portillo said it is "very important" to opt out of Europe if we have a referendum.

Speaking to Daybreak he said: "If the country votes to stay in that would be taken as a green light as full integration, we then over a period of time would go into the Euro, go into the integration process that is necessary to keep the Euro going".