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."
"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".
Labour MPs have said they agree with the Tory criticism.
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."
Other Labour MPs criticised Johnson too.
And Liberal Democrat MPs also expressed their outrage.
Political commentators weighed in, including the Times columnist Matthew Parris.
However, Johnson was unapologetic, using Twitter to defend his words.
This morning he was also defended by Damian Green, the Cabinet Office minister.
The political commentator Nina Schick pointed out that Johnson's comments were being picked up by the world's press.
The news spread to Libya, where politicians there condemned his words. Aid groups, too, added their voices to the criticism.
Alan White is a news editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
Contact Alan White at email@example.com.
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