UK & World News
'Small Island' Britain: Cameron Rejects Slight
David Cameron has delivered a passionate response to a Russian official's alleged dismissal of Britain as a "small island" whose views can be ignored.
In response the Prime Minister said: "Let me be clear - Britain may be a small island, but I would challenge anyone to find a country with a prouder history, a bigger heart or greater resilience."
Downing Street has demanded "clarification" from the Kremlin over the remarks reportedly made by President Vladimir Putin's chief spokesman Dmitry Peskov.
He apparently told reporters that the UK was "just a small island: no one pays any attention to them".
Mr Peskov denied that he was responsible for the comment and insisted it did not reflect the reality of Russia's views on its "positive" relations with the UK.
He said: "I don't know the source of that claim. I simply can't explain the source of that claim. Definitely it is nothing to do with reality. It is definitely not something I have said."
Asked if he thought the comment might have been made by someone representing Mr Putin, he said: "Definitely not."
Mr Cameron told reporters at the G20 that a nerve had not been touched by the apparent comment in response to a question.
He said: "This whole issue has now been denied by the Russia spokesman. They claim they never said such a thing."
However, he still went on make his defence of Britain's role in the world.
"Britain is an island that has helped to clear the European continent of fascism and was resolute in doing that throughout the Second World War," he said.
"Britain is an island that helped to abolish slavery, that has invented most of the things worth inventing, including every sport currently played around the world, that still today is responsible for art, literature and music that delights the entire world.
"We are very proud of everything we do as a small island - a small island that has the sixth-largest economy, the fourth best-funded military, some of the most effective diplomats, the proudest history, one of the best records for art and literature and contribution to philosophy and world civilisation."
He added: "For the people who live in Northern Ireland, I should say we are not just an island we are a collection of islands. I don't want anyone in Shetland or Orkney to feel left out by this."
Meanwhile Downing Street distanced itself from an offensive comment made by Tory MP Henry Smith in reference to Mr Putin.
The backbencher tweeted that the Russian leader was a "tosser".
In response, the Prime Minister's spokesman said: "Some of the comments, I don't think they need any comment. We need a robust but constructive approach and anything else, that's clearly not how the Government goes about its relations with Russia."
Asked about Mr Cameron listing British achievements, the spokesman said: "The PM was answering a question that was put to him. I presume the questioner was grateful for that. Britain has been setting the agenda for many of the things that have been discussed at the G20."