The prime minister has rebuffed Tory MP Henry Smith for calling Vladimir Putin a "tosser" in a tweet, which was posted following reports that a senior Kremlin aide has dismissed Britain as "just a small island" at the G20 Summit in St Petersburg.
Putin really is a tosser.— Henry Smith (@HenrySmithMP) September 6, 2013
Adopting a statesman-like tone, David Cameron said there was no place for insults in foreign policy debate, adding that "good manners" were of paramount importance.
Dmitry Peskov denied making the "small island" remark, telling the Press Association on Thursday: "I don't know the source of that claim. I simply can't explain the source of that claim," he said. "Definitely it is nothing to do with reality. It is definitely not something I have said. I don't know whose views it reflects - it's nothing to do with us.”
Having posted his slight on the micro-blogging site, the Crawley MP explained his affront: "There is his abuse of human rights against the gay community in his own country, there is the abuse of human rights in Syria where the way he is helping and prolonging that civil war there is appalling.
"On Twitter in a slight fit of pique I might refer to him as a tosser. But in other forums, such as the House of Commons, I would accuse him of being an absurd character." He added: "I may not use that colloquial language in other forums, but frankly it is still how I feel."
What I meant to say. pic.twitter.com/Awfxpv0YHg— Henry Smith (@HenrySmithMP) September 6, 2013
The prime minister attempted to ease tensions between Moscow and London by calling for “politeness” in a G20 press conference. "I'm not a regular follower of Twitter but insulting people should never have a part in foreign policy,” said Cameron. “We should try to maintain good manners and politeness even when under intolerable pressure."
Smith later posted a link to Cameron's steadfast defence of Britain against Peskov’s alleged insult, adding: "What I meant to say".