The Prime Minister has said he is not opposed to grammar schools “in principle” following reports that the Government could relax a ban on the creation of new selective schools.

In an interview with LBC, Boris Johnson was asked about the support for setting up new grammar schools among MPs in the “Red Wall”.

He said: “Look, I’ve always been in favour of academic competition and many schools now have policies of selective admission in sixth forms… I’m not against that in principle. All I would say is that what I want is good schools everywhere.”

The Prime Minister added: “I think that competition is a damn fine thing and very important and leads to excellence, and provided… you encourage competition in a way that doesn’t make everybody who fails feel totally miserable, you’ll get some pretty good results.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson in Downing StreetPrime Minister Boris Johnson in Downing Street (John Sibley/PA)

Last week, Mr Johnson said he had “never been against academic selection”, adding, “you need to look at how you do it”.

Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi has also said he wants to “spread the DNA” of grammar schools through the system with grammar schools joining a “family of multi-academy trusts” while retaining their selective status.

The Labour Party introduced a ban on the creation of new grammar schools more than 20 years ago.

The idea of opening new grammar schools enjoys support within the Conservative Party, with former teacher and Tory MP Jonathan Gullis, who used to sit on the Commons Education Select Committee, running a campaign to scrap the ban.

Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the backbench 1922 Committee, also wants to see the rule overturned, and is set to table an amendment to the Schools Bill in a move to bring about the change.

In England, there are 163 grammar schools, most of which are academies although 20 are maintained schools.

Pupils typically sit the 11-Plus exam to be selected for a place on the basis of academic ability.