BORIS Johnson has thrown his weight behind plans to erect a colossal sculpture of a sausage overlooking the A1(M) in North Yorkshire.

The bookmakers' favourite to become the next prime minister said the proposal by Heck "sounded fantastic" and pressed the firm's owners for further details ahead of a planning application being lodged with Hambleton District Council.

The proposal was unveiled in April after the council granted the firm planning permission for a Sausage World visitor attraction, only for the firm to be told funding from the European Union had been refused because of Brexit.

Mr Johnson said: "I am a customer of Heck, but such is my ignorance that I thought they must be some German brand, but they are the best British sausages. I look forward to the Sausage of the North sculpture."

Mr Johnson asked if the firm planned to commission Sir Anthony Gormley, who created the Angel of the North sculpture, to create the artwork, where it would be sited and what height it would be.

Debbie Keeble, who launched the firm with her husband, Andrew, told the former Foreign Secretary that she would like Sir Anthony to work on the sculpture and it was hoped to site the structure, which would take inspiration from Sir Anish Kapoor’s Orbit sculpture at the London Olympic park, outside the factory near Bedale, which produces about 700 sausages a minute.

She added it would be 30 metres high, to which Mr Johnson replied "why not?".

Mr Johnson was visiting the plant ahead of hustings in York on Thursday evening and in Darlington on Friday.

Andrew Keeble said he was delighted to have received support from Mr Johnson for the Sausage of the North plan.

He said: "We want to make the Heck factory a landmark and to have the Sausage of the North here - people would talk about us more. We like doing things a little bit out of the ordinary. The area needs something and the White Horse of Kilburn is actually quite a way away from here and there's nothing really iconic to look.

"We hope to lodge the planning application in the spring. A lot of people might think it looks horrible, but we think it will make the area famous. There's more food produced in Yorkshire than any other county and this will be shouting about it.

"Hambleton council have been brilliant. We started Heck in Hambleton council's starter units and they do good things like give you your first three months rent free. They have been very supportive."