Theresa May declines to say whether Boris Johnson was reprimanded over 'f*** business' comments

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Theresa May has distanced herself from the Foreign Secretary over his reportedly expletive-fuelled outburst against business leaders.

Boris Johnson is said to have exclaimed "f*** business" when asked about the Brexit fears of some company bosses.

The Prime Minister declined to say if she had reprimanded the Cabinet minister over the comments.

But she told The Times CEO summit on Tuesday that she wanted business to be able to speak to the government.

"Business is at the heart of how we are going to develop this country," she said.

"We want to ensure we are listening to the business voice because business provides the backbone of our economy," she added.

"It's right that we listen to the voice of business."

A number of major firms have issued warnings about the impact of Brexit including Airbus, Siemens and BMW.

Asked in the Commons if he could justify the "f*** business" comment, Mr Johnson replied: "I don't think anybody could doubt the passionate support of this Government for business, and it may be that I have from time to time expressed scepticism about some of the views of those who profess to speak up for business."

Mrs May said no-deal on Brexit would mean reverting to World Trade Organisation rules.

But the PM told corporate leaders there were some "horizontal issues" such as aviation arrangements and membership of certain agencies that "we have to look at".

"Now, what happens if it were the case that there were no deal, obviously there are certain things like flights and so forth where there would have to be negotiations that take place in other environments," she said.

The PM said she believed the EU wanted to come to a deal with the UK.

Behind the scenes negotiations are "what matters" rather than the public position being taken by Brussels, she said.

Mrs May stressed the importance of business ties between the UK and the US ahead of the visit of President Donald Trump next month.

"This is an important relationship that has at its heart our defence and security relationship with a significant ally," she added.