- Boris Johnson branded the French “turds” in comments filmed by the BBC, according to a leaked memo.
- However, the UK government successfully persuaded the broadcaster to remove the footage from a documentary about his time at the Foreign Office.
- Officials argued that airing the comments would do significant damage to Anglo-French relations.
- Johnson is the strong favourite to replace Theresa May as prime minister.
- Visit Business Insider’s home page for more stories.
LONDON – Boris Johnson branded the French “turds” in remarks that the United Kingdom government successfully persuaded the BBC to remove from a documentary about his work at the Foreign Office.
The former Foreign Secretary was filmed making the comments in relation to the French government’s Brexit position, according to a leaked government memo seen by the Daily Mail.
The BBC initially insisted they would broadcast the comments, as part of the documentary Inside the Foreign Office, which was broadcast last year, insisting that they were an accurate portrayal of Johnson at work.
However, the Foreign Office successfully argued that Johnson’s comments, if aired, would do “significant damage” to Anglo-French relations and harm Brexit negotiations.
In a memo seen by the Mail, officials note that “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 then removed the comments from the final edit, but kept in separate comments in which Johnson accused the French of “shafting” the UK.
Asked about the comments on Friday, Johnson told a hustings event in South West England that “I have no recollection of those comments.”
Johnson has committed to renegotiating the Brexit deal with the European Union if he becomes prime minister at the end of next month.
However, he has long been seen as a divisive figure in Europe, ever since he began his career as a muck-racking European correspondent for the Daily Telegraph in Brussels.
Senior EU figures have repeatedly insisted that the Withdrawal Agreement negotiated by Theresa May cannot be re-opened.
A spokesperson for the BBC 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.’
A spokesperson for Johnson has not responded to Business Insider’s request for comment.
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