BORIS Johnson’s official spokesperson has refused to apologise for comments the Prime Minister made about colliery closures in the 1980s which have been labelled “crass and offensive”.

Speaking during a visit to Scotland, the Tory leader laughed as he claimed that Margaret Thatcher had given the UK “ a big early start” in the fight against climate change by shutting mining operations across the UK.

READ MORE: Welsh First Minister joins condemnation of Boris Johnson's coal mine 'joke'

Politicians from across the spectrum have condemned the “joke”, with Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford accusing Johnson of “celebrating” the incalculable damage done to communities in his country.

Despite the outcry, the Prime Minister’s official spokesperson today refused to issue an apology, instead saying simply that Johnson “recognises the huge impact and pain closing coal mines had in communities across the UK”.

The National: Margaret Thatcher

They went on to echo Johnson’s claim that Thatcher (above) had helped in the country’s move away from coal power and towards greener energy.

They said: “This Government has an ambitious plan to tackle the critical issue of climate change, which includes reducing reliance on coal and other non-renewable energy sources.

“During the visit the Prime Minister pointed to the huge progress already made in the UK transitioning away from coal and towards cleaner forms of energy, and our commitment to supporting people and industries on that transition.”

Asked if the Prime Minister would apologise, the spokesperson again said: “You’ve got my words there, the Prime Minister recognises the huge impact and pain closing coal mines had in communities across the UK.”

READ MORE: To Boris Johnson, coal mine closures aren't just a joke. They're his blueprint

Writing for The National, the University of Glasgow’s Dr Ewan Gibbs accused the Prime Minister of “fatally misunderstanding recent history” with his claim that Thatcher had helped in the move towards greener energy.

Gibbs explained: “Thatcher’s government was content to import tens of millions of tonnes of coal as well as to burn large volumes of coal mined through destructive opencast methods in Britain.

“It has only been over the last decade that coal has finally fallen out of favour in UK electricity generation, as was symbolised in the Scottish context by the closure of Longannet power station in Fife during 2016.”