Boris Johnson slammed by top Tories over Libya 'dead bodies' comments

Britain's Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson walks by the media after Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May delivered her speech on the final day of the Conservative Party annual conference at the Manchester Central Convention Centre in Manchester northwest

Mr Johnson, who has offended some allies with flippant remarks, told Conservative Party members the Libyan city of Sirte could be turned into the next Dubai by British investors if they could clear the bodies.

For his part, Mr Johnson said he was perplexed at suggestions his comments have overshadowed the PM's efforts to focus attention on the Government's domestic agenda.

He added to BBC 5 live Breakfast: "Let me be clear: it was not an acceptable use of... it was not a sensitive use of language".

Mr Green would not comment on whether Mr Johnson should be sacked, telling the Today Programme: "We must all be careful with our use of language".

Johnson later turned to Twitter to defend his comments, accusing people "with no knowledge or understanding of Libya" of wanting to "play politics with the appallingly risky reality in Sirte".

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Speaking about Libya, the north African nation he visited in August, Mr Johnson was at first full of praise during a speech at a Conservative conference event - extolling its "bone white sands", "beautiful seas" and "brilliant young people".

"The reality there is that the clearing of corpses of Daesh (Islamic State) fighters has been made much more hard by IEDs and booby traps".

He said on Twitter that Britain "played a key role in reconstruction" and he had visited Libya twice this year in support.

"It's an incredible country, I mean you've never seen anything - bone white sands, lovely seas, Caesar's Palace, obviously, you know, the real one... He does not represent my party".

The audience laughed, and the event host quickly moved onto the next question, all of which seemed to suggest it was one of Johnson's characteristic quips.

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He said: "There's a group of United Kingdom business people, wonderful guys who want to invest in Sirte, on the coast, near where Gaddafi was actually captured and executed as some of you may have seen". The coastal city was wrestled from the "Islamic State" militia a year ago.

"The only thing they've got to do is clear the dead bodies away and then we will be there."

'If these words came from the business people themselves, it would be considered offensive enough, but for them to come from the Foreign Secretary is simply a disgrace.

Thornberry's comments were echoed by Jo Swinson from the Liberal Democrats, who said that the comments were another proof that "Boris is not up to the job" as UK's top diplomat.

The foreign secretary said that Sirte in Libya only has to "clear the dead bodies away" to become the new Dubai.

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