Boris Johnson reportedly accused the French of being "turds" over their Brexit stance in a remark that was removed from a BBC documentary while he was foreign secretary.

The undiplomatic language from Mr Johnson – now frontrunner in the contest to succeed Theresa May in Number 10 – was censored after concerns it would make Anglo-French relations "awkward". 

According to the Daily Mail, Mr Johnson made the crude remark as the BBC filmed its fly-on-the-wall documentary 'Inside the Foreign Office' showing viewers the secretive world of British diplomats.

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But the Foreign Office asked for the word to be cut from the documentary, with a Whitehall memo suggesting the comment would adversely affect relations with close ally Emmanuel Macron.

By the time the three-part documentary was aired on the BBC last year, Mr Johnson, however, had already resigned as foreign secretary in protest at the prime minister's plans for Brexit.

A BBC spokeswoman 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 ambition and has the contest they wanted."

Sir Alan Duncan, a foreign office minister and high-profile critic of his former boss Mr Johnson, said there had been a significant level of concern within the Foreign Office about the documentary. 

"I do remember that the filming of the documentary was a pretty high octane venture," he told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme. "There were some pretty bumpy moments when we thought 'Ooh, we don't want that to appear'.

"I imagine that there were discussions between the Foreign Office and the Beeb saying: 'Please don't put that in... or that, or that, or that, or that'. This was perhaps one of them." 

Asked whether she was aware of the remark during in an ITV interview in Japan at the G20 summit, Theresa May said: "I believe that whoever 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 for the British people."

Pressed again, the prime minister offered: "What I believe whoever takes over will be doing is ensuring that they can work with the EU and with our parliament to find a way through."

Both the Foreign Office and Mr Johnson's team refused to comment when approached by The Independent. 

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