Belfast Telegraph

Monday 22 September 2014

Cameron's stirring tribute to UK

The Prime Minister joked that he was thinking of setting his impassioned defence of the UK to music

David Cameron has issued an impassioned paean to Britain's achievements after a Russian official reportedly dismissed it as a "small island" whose views could be ignored.

In a lavishly patriotic riposte at the end of the G20 summit in St Petersburg, the Prime Minister said the UK had not only helped abolish slavery and settle the Second World War, but "invented most of the things worth inventing".

He signed off by adding: "I'm thinking of setting this to music."

The comments, initially delivered verbally to reporters before being posted online, were immediately compared to a scene from hit film Love Actually, in which Hugh Grant's prime minister interrupts the US president to say: "We may be a small country but we're a great one, too."

Some wags also questioned whether Mr Cameron was slightly overtired after the strain of the two-day summit.

Downing Street demanded "clarification" from the Kremlin after a spokesman was reported to have dismissed the UK as "just a small island, no-one pays any attention to them".

Mr Cameron noted that Mr Putin's chief spokesman Dmitry Peskov had denied making the remark. But he went on: "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 World War Two. 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.

"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. I'm thinking of setting this to music..."

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