Ubiquitous Brexiteer, Mark Francois, a proper diamond geezer, chippy spiv and one of the mouthpieces for the spectacularly ironically named Tory party faction calling itself The European Research Group, has denied claims that he was caught in a tabloid sting operation intending to change his surname from Francois to Digby Mainwaring-Smythe.

‘This is simply not true, I’m proud of my surname and would never dream of changing it,’ Mr Francois insisted when the suggestion was put to him this morning by Piers Morgan on ITV’s breakfast news programme, Tizwas.

Nevertheless all the hapless Member of Parliament for Rayleigh and Wickford got for his denial was imprisonment in a cage whereupon Morgan and his shapely co-host, Susanna Reid (48), pelted him with wet sponges and buckets of freezing cold water.

Speaking later to reporters Mr Francois said he had been in no way put out by his treatment on the show adding: ‘Look, it was just a bit of good old-fashioned British slapstick fun with thinly-veiled undertones of sexual fetishes. I simply played along to make them all look pretty damn foolish.’

‘I’m proud of my surname and if I might just add, I’m also as British as Chicken Tikka Masala, Pizza or indeed Nandos, and what’s more… erm… no hang on… ah, sorry, excuse me but I must just take this call…’