The BBC reportedly dropped a clip of Conservative Party leadership candidate Boris Johnson saying the French were being “turds” about Brexit after the Foreign Office pleaded that it be removed from a documentary.
The Government department is also alleged to have unsuccessfully tried to have a recording of the former Mayor of London accusing the French of “shafting Britain” taken out of the film.
- February 24, 2021
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Johnson made the comments while he was Foreign Secretary and being filmed by a documentary crew for the BBC Two three-part series Inside the Foreign Office.
An internal Whitehall memo seen by the Daily Mail, which revealed the BBC decision to axe the “turds” clip on its front page today, said the comment would make relations between the UK and France “awkward”.
The BBC is reported to have initially stood by both clips, but later removed Johnson’s comment about the French being “turds” when the Foreign Office said it would cause “significant damage” to Britain.
The Tory leadership front runner’s remark about Britain being “shafted” by its neighbour remained in the film.
The 13 November Whitehall memo seen by the Daily Mail reportedly 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 has not denied the allegations. A spokesperson said: “The programme set out to reflect the realities of life inside the Foreign Office
“The production team made judgments about what was in the programme and they are satisfied that the programme achieves its ambitions and has the content they wanted.”
Johnson told a Conservative Party leadership hustings in Exeter today he had “no recollection” of making the “turds” comment.
The MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip will succeed Theresa May as Prime Minister next month if he beats current Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt in leadership race.
The Foreign Office said it had no comment on the allegations.
Picture: Reuters/Hannah McKay