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Diane Abbott ran for leadership of the British Labour party in 2010. Dave Thompson/PA Archive/Press Association Images
Controversial tweet

British MP apologies over ‘white people love playing divide and rule’ tweet

Diane Abbott has apologised after a tweet led to accusations of racism. Her party leader Ed Miliband called her during a TV interview to give her “a severe dressing down”, it is reported.

Update 2.35pm

A BRITISH MP has apologised amid calls for her to resign following her claim on Twitter that “white people love playing divide and rule”.

Labour MP Diane Abbott made the controversial comments yesterday in response to criticism of the term “black community leaders” which was being used in some media coverage in the wake of the Stephen Lawrence racist murder trial.

At first she claimed that her tweet was “taken out of context” but she has since apologised “for any offence caused”.

“I understand people have interpreted my comments as making generalisations about white people. I do not believe in doing that,” BBC News quotes her as saying this afternoon.

Yesterday, in the course of a discussion about the Lawrence trial, she wrote: ”White people love playing ‘divide & rule’ We should not play their game” using the hashtag #tacticsasoldascolonialism.

The London MP was subsequently accused of inciting hated against white people by a Conservative MP, Nadhim Zahawi, who called on her to resign or be sacked by Labour leader Ed Miliband.

“This is racism,” Zawahi told BBC Radio. ”If this was a white member of Parliament saying that all black people want to do bad things to us he would have resigned within the hour or be sacked.”

When contacted by Huffington Post UK this morning, Abbott said: “I’m going to have to get back to you on that” as her comments generated a huge response on Twitter.

In what has proved to be a difficult day for Abbott, she was forced to break off an interview with Sky News about the comments when she received a phone call.

It transpired that it was Miliband, who was on the other end of the phone. PoliticsHome’s Paul Waugh reported that Abbott was given “a severe dressing down” by her leader:

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