G20 summit: David Cameron responds to Russia's alleged 'small island' jibe against Britain

Cameron has had to battle perceptions of isolation during the summit in St Petersburg

David Cameron has mounted a proud defence of the UK, in the face of a reported "small island" jibe from the Russians.

Giving mention of Britain's fight against fascism during the 20th century and the abolition of slavery in the 19th, he said the country "has invented most of the things worth inventing, including every sport currently played around the world."

Cameron is in St Petersburg, meeting fellow world leaders at the G20 summit. Yesterday Dmitry Peskov, spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin, had to deny he had dismissed the UK as “a small island no one pays any attention to”.

At the time the Prime Minister said he did not accept that Mr Peskov had used the words, but a No 10 source urged Mr Putin’s office to clarify his position.

Today Mr Cameron hardened his stance, telling journalists: "I've 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."

He also gave mention to the UK's place as the world's sixth-richest country, with the fourth best-funded military, before noting the geological inaccuracy of the purported remark, adding: "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."

Cameron has had to battle perceptions of isolation during the summit, after Parliament refused to allow him to join Barack Obama's drive for military intervention in Syria. This was compounded when the US President chose to hold one-to-one talks with French President Francois Hollande but not Cameron.

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