11/12/2016 13:48 GMT

Boris Johnson's Criticism Of Saudi Arabia Misreported, Defence Secretary Says

Nick Robinson accused of 'making a meal' out of the furore.

Gregorio Borgia/AP
Number 10 distanced itself from Boris Johnson after he claimed Saudi Arabia was behind 'proxy wars' in the Middle East

Boris Johnson’s criticism of British ally Saudi Arabia was misreported and “taken out of context”, the Defence Secretary has said.

The Foreign Secretary suffered a humiliating slapdown from Number 10 when he claimed the kingdom was behind “proxy wars” in the Middle East.

Downing Street said earlier this week that Johnson’s comments were not “the government’s position”.

But Sir Michael Fallon attempted to play down No 10’s rebuke, giving an account of what happened at a regular briefing between journalists and Downing Street officials, despite not having been there.

Stefan Wermuth / Reuters
Michael Fallon claimed Boris' comment on Saudi Arabia had been misreported

And he accused Nick Robinson, who was standing in for Andrew Marr on his eponymous BBC One Sunday morning political show, of “making a meal” out of the furore.

He said: “I think you really are making a meal of this. Boris’s comment, as we have already established, was taken out of context in the reporting that implied we didn’t support Saudi Arabia.

“Downing Street was asked the question and Downing Street answered it.”

Footage emerged this week of Johnson lumping the state in with Iran when he raised concerns about “puppeteering” in the region.

He was addressing a conference in Rome when he talked of politicians “twisting and abusing religion” to further their political aims.