The Defence Secretary Michael Fallon was left floundering in a live TV interview after criticising what he thought was a Jeremy Corbyn quote – before being informed the words actually came from Boris Johnson.
The senior Tory minister was appearing on Channel 4 News with presenter Krishnan Guru-Murthy to discuss the Labour’s leader speech following the Manchester bombing, during which Mr Corbyn said the “war on terror had failed.”
Mr Fallon was quick to criticise a quote read out by Guru-Murthy, which he apparently assumed belonged to the Labour leader.
“Isn’t it possible that things like the Iraq war did not create the problem of murderous Islamic fundamentalists, though the war has unquestionably sharpened the resentments felt by such people in this country and given them a new pretext?” Mr Guru-Murthy read to the Defence Secretary.
Assuming the words had come from Mr Corbyn’s speech, Mr Fallon said the attackers were “not entitled to excuses.”
Mr Guru-Murthy informed Mr Fallon the words were from his cabinet colleague Mr Johnson, who made the statement in an article after the 7/7 attacks.
“He goes on to say, ‘the Iraq war did not introduce the poison into our bloodstream but, yes, the war did help to potentiate that poison’. That is exactly the same as what Jeremy Corbyn is saying now,” the presenter added.
“Well I don’t agree with that,” a visibly flustered Mr Fallon said after hearing the quote.
When asked if Mr Johnson was wrong, the Defence Secretary avoided answering the question.
“Well I would have to see the words you are trying to quote to me, I don’t have them in front of me,” Mr Fallon said.
In the article quoted by Mr Murthy, Mr Johnson made a similar point to Mr Corbyn’s this week, who in his speech suggested foreign interventions had played a role in worsening the terror threat.
Despite this, the Foreign Secretary publically criticised the Labour leader for his speech.
“Now is not the time to do anything to subtract from the fundamental responsibility of those individuals, that individual in particular, who committed this atrocity.
“And I think it is absolutely monstrous that anybody should seek to do so,” Mr Johnson said.