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Tory leadership race: Boris Johnson has 'no recollection' of calling the French 'turds' over their Brexit behaviour

  • Video report by ITV News Political Correspondent Daniel Hewitt

Boris Johnson has said he has “no recollection” of calling the French “turds” over Brexit.

Speaking at the fourth installment of leadership hustings, Mr Johnson said the story, that was published by Daily Mail and claimed the BBC removed his comment, was “poorly sourced”.

Journalist Iain Dale, who was questioning Mr Johnson during the hustings, pointed out that source was the Foreign Office.

A leaked Whitehall memo, about the BBC fly-on-the-wall documentary covering Mr Johnson’s time as Foreign Secretary, said: “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."

The BBC reportedly agreed not to broadcast the comment as it could harm relations between Britain and France.

Responding to the news, a BBC spokesperson 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."

ITV News asked Theresa May if she was aware that as Foreign Secretary Mr Johnson had allegedly called the French "turds".

Both Mr Johnson and Jeremy Hunt took questions from Mr Dale and Tory Party members during the latest round of hustings in Exeter.

The two candidates are going head-to-head at events around the country as they try to win the support of the 160,000 Conservative Party members who will decide who the next Prime Minister will be.

At the event Mr Johnson denied he was “measuring the curtains” for Downing Street, after reports had emerged that he had started to draw up his new cabinet.

Mr Johnson said he had not offered any of his colleagues jobs.

Jeremy Hunt and Boris Johnson Credit: PA

“Of course, there is a wealth of talent on the Conservative benches but anything I say now about the future shape or personnel of the administration I lead would be counted as measuring the curtains.”

“…One of the difficulties I am discovering in this situation is obviously that people want to project onto us and to our agenda all sorts of things that they think are desirable, including the possibility that they should have some job or other.”

While Mr Johnson would not confirm if Mr Hunt would be in his cabinet, Mr Hunt said he would “love” to have the former Mayor of London in his. Mr Hunt joked that he would make his rival the “Secretary of State for collective responsibility” in his government.

“Boris is someone of enormous talent, he’s changed the course of our history through his leadership of the Leave campaign and he should always have a very big role in taking things forward,” he told party members.

“In terms of what role he would have I think that’s a discussion that I would have with him in that situation. Would I serve him? Of course – we’re in an incredibly difficult situation.”