David Cameron was berated by an angry member of the public yesterday over his comment that Britain was the US's “junior partner” against the Nazis in 1940.
The Prime Minister was made to squirm at a question and answer session in Hove when a pensioner accused him of “denigrating” his own country.
Retired telephonist Kathy Finn (75) asked him: “Who do you consider was the senior partner in the Battle of Britain when we were fighting alone in the first two-and-a-half years of the war?”
Mr Cameron replied: “There was no senior partner. We were on our own in 1940... what I meant to say was that I was referring to the 1940s, not 1940.
“You are absolutely right and I was absolutely wrong.”
An apologetic PM went on: “In 1940, as I know, it was the proudest year of our nation's entire history, we were completely on our own.”
Ms Finn interjected: “That's not what you told Obama”, but Mr Cameron pointed out that his remark had actually been made in a television interview as he visited the US last month.
“The point I was trying to make is today we are self-evidently the junior partner in the special relationship,” he added. “That was the only point I was trying to make and if I upset anyone I am profoundly sorry. I clearly upset you, and so I am trying to set the record straight.”
Ms Finn shot back: “You denigrated your own country.”
Mr Cameron said: “I absolutely did not want to do that.”
Afterwards, Ms Finn, whose step-father was a mine sweeper in the Navy, said: “When I saw him say what he said on the TV, I was just furious, the same as many other people were but he doesn't seem to have been picked up on it.
“It seems as if he was trying to appease America and flatter Obama because of BP. He didn't seem to know his recent history either. I voted for him but it makes me wonder if I was right to do so.”