Osborne
George Osborne

Chancellor George Osborne has become the first senior Conservative to try and distance the party from London Mayor Boris Johnson's comments that people with a low IQ cannot expect to earn as much money as more intelligent people.

Speaking to the BBC on the Andrew Marr show, Osborne said he disagreed with Johnson's rhetoric, but said there was some weight to the argument that not everyone in Britain should expect "equality of outcome", as some people have a higher IQ than others.

Osborne said: "I wouldn't have put it like that. I don't agree with everything he said."

But he added: "Where I think there is increasingly common agreement across the political spectrum is that you can't achieve equality of outcome. But you should be able to achieve equality of opportunity. You should give everyone wherever they come from the best chance and education is the absolute key to this.

"That idea that greed is good and the poor are poor because they are stupid is pretty outdated set of views and there's rather too much of those attitudes around in politics," he said.

Johnson was widely panned for his comments, made in a provocative speech at the Centre for Policy studies, a political thinktank. During his speech Johnson said economic equality was impossible, inequalities were essential in society, and that greed is "a valuable spur to economic activity".

Johnson said: "Britain is competing in an increasingly impatient and globalised economy. No one can ignore the harshness of that competition, or the inequality that it inevitably accentuates. Violent economic centrifuge is operating on human beings who are already very far from equal in raw ability, if not spiritual worth.

"Whatever you may think of the value of IQ tests, it is surely relevant to a conversation about equality that as many as 16% of our species have an IQ below 85, while about 2% have an IQ above 130. The harder you shake the pack, the easier it will be for some cornflakes to get to the top."

On the show Ed Balls, the shadow chancellor, said Johnson's views were not uncommon in politics.

"That idea that greed is good and the poor are poor because they are stupid is a pretty outdated set of views and there's rather too much of those attitudes around in politics."

The full 49-minute speech is available to view here, or you can watch an extract from Johnson's speech on YouTube, below: