Cameron: UK may be small island but it has biggest heart
British leader mounts patriotic defence – which he is happy to be set to music – after reported Russian claim no one listens to UK.
David Cameron has mounted a robust patriotic defence after the spokesman for Vladimir Putin reprtedly said the UK was a small island to which no one listened.
At a briefing with reporters in St Petersburg, the British prime minister went into overdrive in defence of the UK.
Without pausing for breath he told reporters: “We have been told that the Russians absolutely deny making the remark, and certainly no one’s made it to me. But 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.
“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. 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.”
He then quipped that he was quite happy for his remarks to be set to music.
The Russians have insisted they had never belittled the UK at any briefing this week.
In a 20-minute bilateral meeting with Putin at about 2am on Friday, Cameron registered his concerns over Russian legislation that discriminates against gay people. Putin gave assurances that gay athletes and spectators at the winter Olympics in Sochi would not be discriminated against. There have been fears that the Russians will punish athletes who display rainbow flags during the Games.
Cameron said it was not just a matter of the Olympics, but the permanent treatment of minorities.
In an interview with the Associated Press earlier this week, Putin said: “I assure you that I work with these people, I sometimes award them with state prizes or decorations for their achievements in various fields.
“We have absolutely normal relations,” he added.