Mr Johnson made the apparent joke during a visit to Scotland, ahead of the UN COP26 climate conference later this year. World leaders will descend on Glasgow from October 31 for a keynote event being hosted by the UK.
Addressing journalists, the Prime Minister laughed whilst praising Mrs Thatcher for her green credentials.
He said: “Look at what we’ve done already.
“We’ve transitioned away from coal in my lifetime.
“Thanks to Margaret Thatcher who closed so many coal mines across the country where we had had a big early start and we’re now moving rapidly away from coal altogether.”
Mr Johnson then added, in an apparent reference to his joke, “I thought that would get you going”.
However, the remarks sparked a furious response from the Labour Party, SNP and trade union figures.
On Twitter, Sir Keir commented: “Boris Johnson’s shameful praising of Margaret Thatcher’s closure of the coal mines, brushing off the devastating impact on those communities with a laugh, shows just how out of touch he is with working people.”
Speaking to the Daily Record Louise Gilmour, acting GMB Scotland Secretary, said: “The Prime Minister’s ignorance knows no bounds.
“Thatcher’s industrial vandalism wreaked havoc in coal communities across Scotland and the rest of the UK, leaving deep scars of depravation and disadvantage which we are still dealing with today.
“The Prime Minister should also realise his own energy and industrial policy is looking increasingly shambolic, promising a ‘green jobs revolution’ while presiding over the mass export of renewables manufacturing jobs we need here to support the transition to net zero.
“If he doesn’t start levelling-up soon, he’ll leave a similar legacy to that of Thatcher in working class communities across the country.”
Mrs Thatcher defeated the National Union of Mineworkers, led by Arthur Scargill, during the 1984-5 miners’ strike.
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Mr Scargill refused to hold a ballot for the action, meaning some miners continued working throughout the strike.
SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon also took aim at the Prime Minister over his comment.
She tweeted: “Lives & communities in Scotland were utterly devastated by Thatcher’s destruction of the coal industry (which had zero to do with any concern she had for the planet).
“To treat that as something to laugh about is crass & deeply insensitive to that reality.”
Former Brexit Party leader, and GB News host, Nigel Farage accused Mr Johnson of “rubbing salt into the wounds” of ex-mining areas.
He said: “Why is Boris Johnson rubbing salt into the wounds of old mining communities, with his crass comments about Thatcher closing the coal mines?
“Does he even understand the red wall? Madness.”
Ms Sturgeon narrowly missed out on a Holyrood majority in May’s Scottish Parliament election.
However, she is still demanding another referendum on taking Scotland out of the UK.
Scotland voted to remain part of Britain in 2014, by 55 percent of the vote to 45 percent.
The UK Government is urging Ms Sturgeon to focus on Scotland’s coronavirus recovery, rather than constitutional issues.