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People Can't Believe Boris Johnson's Comment About Dead Bodies In Libya

Boris Johnson has doubled down in the face of calls from Labour and Tory MPs for him to be sacked. Downing Street says it was "not appropriate language", but won't force him to apologise.

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A spokesperson for Number 10 has said that Boris Johnson's claim that Sirte, Libya, could be the next Dubai after "they ... clear the dead bodies away", was "not appropriate language."

LISTEN: @BorisJohnson has suggested parts of Libya could be the next Dubai “if they clear the dead bodies away” at… https://t.co/oZaYE4IhAK

"I look at Libya, it's an incredible country," the foreign secretary said.

"Bone-white sands, beautiful sea, Caesar's Palace – obviously, you know, the real one.

"Incredible place. It's got a real potential and brilliant young people who want to do all sorts of tech."

He went on: "There's a group of UK business people, actually, some wonderful guys who want to invest in Sirte on the coast, near where Gaddafi was captured and executed, as some of you may have seen.

"They have got a brilliant vision to turn Sirte into the next Dubai."

He added: "The only thing they have got to do is clear the dead bodies away," before laughing.

Following Theresa May's disastrous speech at the Conservative Party conference, a spokesperson for Number 10 said the comment was "not appropriate language". However, they went on to say they would not force him to apologise or say anything further.

The comment provoked outrage from fellow Tory MPs Heidi Allen and Sarah Wollaston. The latter told the Today programme his comments were "crass", "poorly judged", and "grossly insensitive".

100% unacceptable from anyone, let alone foreign sec. Boris must be sacked for this. He does not represent my party. https://t.co/v2RHlbjlnB

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Labour MPs have said they agree with the Tory criticism.

I agree w/ Sarah. He's a national embarrassment who is damaging Britain's interests. If May had any real authority,… https://t.co/iUvS4Rr0HZ

Shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry told The Guardian: “For Boris Johnson to treat those deaths as a joke – a mere inconvenience before UK business people can turn the city into a beach resort – is unbelievably crass, callous and cruel.

“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."

Unbelievable. This is beyond buffoonery. It is a disgrace https://t.co/fIHKYs47HG

Other Labour MPs criticised Johnson too.

Boris Johnson's colonial song in Burma & call to "clear the bodies away" to access profit in Libya: true to born-to… https://t.co/ghPinBaeyW

And Liberal Democrat MPs also expressed their outrage.

Diplomacy is a basic requirement for the role of Foreign Secretary. This is further proof Boris is not up to the jo… https://t.co/d6p5RU1oDG

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Political commentators weighed in, including the Times columnist Matthew Parris.

Does he not understand the tastelessness of what he says? - Matthew Parris reacts to @BorisJohnson's comments on Li… https://t.co/8tW3aSbTd9

However, Johnson was unapologetic, using Twitter to defend his words.

Shame people with no knowledge or understanding of Libya want to play politics with the appallingly dangerous reality in Sirte

The reality there is that the clearing of corpses of Daesh fighters has been made much more difficult by IEDs and booby traps

That's why Britain is playing a key role in reconstruction and why I have visited Libya twice this year in support

This morning he was also defended by Damian Green, the Cabinet Office minister.

The “bodies” @BorisJohnson was referring to were "those of Daesh fighters"- @DamianGreen defends Foreign Sec's cont… https://t.co/1ZeDJH0pJY

The political commentator Nina Schick pointed out that Johnson's comments were being picked up by the world's press.

@BorisJohnson 1/ A list of other countries' press that have picked up, reported, and are horrified at the Foreign… https://t.co/g49Tp8sncS

Her thread has featured at least 10 countries so far, including Germany, Peru, France, and the United Arab Emirates.

The news spread to Libya, where politicians there condemned his words. Aid groups, too, added their voices to the criticism.

Libya’s pro-British politicians have just heard what Boris Johnson said and are calling for him to be sacked.… https://t.co/vpB1eirMOy

Alan White is a news editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Alan White at alan.white@buzzfeed.com.

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