Boris Johnson 'disappeared’ in ex-colleague's Twitter post
A photo posted by the Twitter account of British Business Secretary Grant Shapps ahead of a space launch has apparently been edited to remove former Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
The image was posted on Sunday ahead of the attempt by Virgin Orbit to conduct the first-ever space launch from British soil. It showed Shapps during a visit to Spaceport Cornwall, standing in front of the LauncherOne rocket alongside senior officials from the company and the UK Space Agency.
Eagle-eyed users, however, noticed a suspicious smudge in the center of the image and established that it was evidence of photo editing. The original shot, which was taken in July 2021 and is published online, features then-Prime Minister Boris Johnson in the vacant spot on the image.
Shapps served as transport secretary in the Johnson cabinet and had accompanied the head of the British government during his tour to the space facility more than a year ago. The tweet with the doctored image was later taken down.
Spot the difference, @GrantShapps-style!(thanks to @garius for spotting this one, and made extra special by the fact that the launch completely failed) pic.twitter.com/rbVj36v0rR— Gareth Dennis (@GarethDennis) January 10, 2023
“Grant wasn’t aware anyone had edited the picture. He removed it as soon as it was pointed out,” an unnamed source close to the secretary told British media. “Obviously he wouldn’t endorse anyone rewriting history by removing the former PM from a picture. He was proud to serve in Boris’s government.”
The space launch on Monday ended in failure. The rocket was boosted by a modified Boeing 747 jet, but failed to reach orbit during its self-powered ascent. Virgin Orbit blamed an “anomaly” during the rocket’s second-stage engine burn. The crew of the ‘Cosmic Girl’ aircraft safely returned home.
Johnson’s tenure as prime minister ended early in September 2022, after he faced a revolt by senior party members and some cabinet officials. It was triggered by a scandal over the appointment of alleged sex offender Chris Pincher as Tory Deputy Chief whip.