Boris Johnson's father says Brits are illiterate and can't spell Pinocchio

Boris Johnson’s father today suggested Brits are illiterate.

Stanley Johnson sparked an online storm when making the assertion on the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire show.

The programme shared a viewer’s opinion calling his son Pinocchio, after the fictional character beset by his tendency to tell lies.

Mr Johnson then said: “That requires a degree of literacy, which I think the Great British public doesn’t necessarily have.

Stanley Johnson on the Victoria Derbyshire Show on Friday (BBC)
Stanley Johnson on the Victoria Derbyshire show on Friday (BBC)

“They couldn’t spell Pinocchio if it, um, if they tried.”

Asked by presenter Joanna Gosling why he would say that, Mr Johnson said: “What, can you spell Pinocchio? Have a go.

“I go back to what I said before, and I was trying to say it in a humorous way.

“I think it is utterly absurd and wrong that you can read out on air a tweet coming in from one of your readers [sic] which calls the Prime Minister a liar.”

One viewer, who was among the hundreds posting outraged responses, tweeted: “Now we know where Boris gets if from!”

And anti-Brexit campaign group Best for Britain posted: “Rather than challenging the British public to spell 'Pinocchio', an Italian character, perhaps Stanley Johnson would be wiser to acknowledge that his son, Boris, is incapable of understanding the meaning of the simpler word 'Liar'.”

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Boris Johnson himself faced testy on-air exchanges earlier on Friday.

The Prime Minister, on a live LBC phone-in, was confronted by a single mother over his past comments calling children of single women “illegitimate”.