THE SNP have hammered the BBC for reportedly conspiring with the UK Government to cover up xenophobic comments made by Boris Johnson.

The Tory leadership frontrunner, being filmed for a documentary while foreign secretary, was caught calling officials “French turds” amid frustrations over Brexit talks, according to the Daily Mail.

The footage was reportedly cut from a subsequent three-part series, Inside the Foreign Office, after secret negotiations with Tory government officials.

SNP depute leader Keith Brown said the broadcaster has plumbed new depths.

“The revelation that BBC bosses covered up these xenophobic comments by Boris Johnson represents a new low for the corporation,” he said.

“The BBC is supposed to be impartial but instead they have colluded with the Tory government to cover up this astonishing and offensive remark.

“Viewers will be appalled if not surprised to discover that the BBC would buckle to the demands of the Tory government.

“With the BBC now acting hand in glove with this chaotic Tory government – while simultaneously failing to adequately hold them to account – it will only serve to further erode trust in the broadcaster and further damage the BBC’s reputation.”

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The Foreign Office is said to have lobbied for the clip of the former foreign secretary to be axed from the documentary, claiming it could make relations between London and Paris “awkward”.

According to a Whitehall memo seen by the Daily Mail, the BBC were initially intent on broadcasting the “French turd” comment on the basis that it was an accurate and fair portrayal of Johnson at work.

Officials were also concerned about footage in which Johnson said the French were “shafting Britain” amid fears of an angry backlash from Emmanuel Macron at a time when they were trying to win concessions in Brexit negotiations.

BBC chiefs relented, however, after the Foreign Office argued the remarks could cause “significant damage” to the UK and went against the Government’s aims in agreeing to the documentary – namely, to “promote Global Britain to a UK audience”.

Asked at Tory leadership hustings yesterday if he had made the comments, Johnson said he had “no recollection” of doing so, adding that the story, said to be based on information from the Foreign Office, was not “very well sourced”.

Ultimately, the BBC removed the “French turds” clip but kept the “shafted” comment in the fly-on-the-wall series, which aired in November.

The leaked memo, dated November 13, reads: “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.”

A spokesman 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.”

After resigning as foreign secretary, Johnson told Theresa May, attempting to gain further concessions for her Withdrawal Agreement was like “polishing a turd”.

Yesterday he denied he is already “measuring the curtains” for Downing Street amid reports he has begun drawing up his new Cabinet in expectation that he was on course to enter No 10 next month.

Appearing at the latest leadership hustings in Exeter, he said: “Of course, there is a wealth of talent on the Conservative benches but anything I say now about the future shape or personnel of the administration I lead would be counted as measuring the curtains.”

His rival Jeremy Hunt, meanwhile, said he would “love” to have Johnson in his Cabinet and joked that he would appoint him “secretary of state for collective responsibility”.

Results from a YouGov poll published yesterday suggested Hunt is the public’s preferred successor for Theresa May, by 41% to 29% .

But Johnson was ahead by 48% to 39% among Conservative voters, and it is the Tory party membership who will decide the victor.