BUSINESS Secretary Grant Shapps has quietly deleted a social media post after it was pointed out that former prime minister Boris Johnson had been edited out of the accompanying image.

Shapps, a close ally of Johnson during his time in No 10, had posted on Twitter in advance of the rocket launch from Spaceport Cornwall, backing the first-ever launch of a satellite from European soil.

However, it was the photo that accompanied the now-deleted tweet (below) which drew attention. It showed Shapps on a visit to the spaceport, apparently alone.

The National:

But the original picture (below), which remains on the Number 10 Flickr account and is dated June 9, 2021, had Johnson standing in the now empty space between Shapps and his hosts.

Johnson is wearing a jacket that says "prime minister", while Shapps's says "transport secretary", a role he has not held since Johnson left office. 

The National:

A source "close to Shapps" told the BBC that the Business Secretary had not known the picture was edited.

"He removed it as soon as it was pointed out," they claimed. "Obviously he wouldn't endorse anyone rewriting history by removing the former PM from a picture."

The satellite launch attempt on Tuesday morning ended in failure after suffering an “anomaly” during the flight.

After taking off from Cornwall, the Virgin Orbit plane flew to 35,000ft over the Atlantic Ocean where it jettisoned the rocket containing nine small satellites towards space.

Organisers of the Start Me Up mission said the rocket – with a variety of civil and defence applications – failed to orbit.

After the launch failed, Shapps told Sky News: “Space is difficult. Everyone’s used to seeing rockets which explode from Japan, what have you.

“The great thing about this technology is that no-one was harmed. The pilots came back in the aircraft.

“It didn’t work. I’ve no doubt that they’ll pick themselves up, dust themselves off and they’ll go again once they find out what exactly went wrong with it.”

Shapps did not know the time schedule for another possible attempt.

“It was a big moment nonetheless yesterday,” he added.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has been contacted for comment.