Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has caused uproar by warning French President Francois Hollande against dishing out Second World War-style "punishment beatings" to Britain as it tries to exit the EU.

The UK's top diplomat, on a two-day visit to India from Wednesday (18 January), was asked about comments by an aide to Hollande, who said that the UK should not expect a better trading relationship with the EU after leaving it.

"If Mr Hollande wants to administer punishment beatings to anybody who chooses to escape [the EU], rather in the manner of some World War II movie, then I don't think that is the way forward. I think actually it's not in the interests of our friends and partners," Johnson replied.

His remarks come a day after Prime Minister Theresa May revealed that the UK will leave the EU's single market as part of her 12-point Brexit plan.

Liberal Democrat Leader Tim Farron described Johnson's comments as "utterly crass and clueless", only serving to "unite Europe further against Britain at a time we need friends more than ever".

According to the BBC, Downing Street later said Mr Johnson "was not in any way suggesting anyone was a Nazi".

The spokeswoman said the remarks were "all being hyped up" and that the foreign secretary had used a "theatrical comparison", adding: "There is not a government policy of not talking about the War."

But a Labour spokesman said: "The foreign secretary has a habit of making wild and inappropriate comments. Talking about World War Two in that context is another one of those and not something that's going to improve the climate for negotiations."

The foreign secretary is in India to boost economic ties with the country after Brexit. He said the UK wants to "turbocharge" its relationship with India through a free trade deal, speaking at the Raisina Dialogue, India's flagship geopolitical conference.

"The time is fast upon us when we need to turbocharge the relationship in the form of a new trade deal," he said. "We can't negotiate it now. But we can sketch it out in pencil."

Johnson, a leading Brexiteer, wrote in The Telegraph that countries are "already queuing up" to sign trade deals with the UK after Brexit.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court has announced it will give its verdict next Tuesday on the government's legal battle over whether MPs must be consulted before Brexit is triggered.

May's 12-point Brexit plan

  1. Government will provide certainty and clarity to politicians and businesses.
  2. UK will 'control our own laws' by quitting the European Court of Justice.
  3. May will strengthen the 'precious union' between England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland.
  4. There will be no hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
  5. UK will 'control' EU immigration, while recruiting the 'brightest and the best' from around the world.
  6. Government will seek a reciprocal residency rights deal for EU and UK workers 'as soon as possible'.
  7. May has promised to protect workers' rights.
  8. Ministers will seek a 'bold' and 'comprehensive' free trade agreement with the EU.
  9. UK will seek a customs agreement so that it can broker its own trade deals with non-EU nations.
  10. May will keep European science and innovation ties in bid to keep the UK a 'world leader'.
  11. UK will continue to work with the EU in bid a bid to combat the threat of terrorism.
  12. Ministers will seek to avoid a 'cliff edge' and seek a smooth split from the EU.