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MP apologises for tweeting 'white people love playing divide and rule'

January 6, 2012 - London

Shadow health minister Diane Abbott has apologised after a comment she posted online sparked a race row.

"White people love playing 'divide and rule'. We should not play their game," the Labour MP tweeted, causing a controversy.

The remark came during a conversation with a freelance journalist following the sentencing of two men for the racially aggravated murder of Stephen Lawrence.

The comments led to heavy criticism, with some Conservatives branding them racist and calling for her resignation.

At the beginning the MP insisted that the comment had been taken out of context.

"Some people have interpreted it maliciously," she told Sky News.

During the interview, she was interrupted by a phone call, which sources have revealed was from leader Ed Miliband.

A source close to Miliband said: "He phoned her up personally to give her a severe dressing down. He made it clear she had to apologise unreservedly to him, to the party, and to anybody who was offended by it. This is not what the Labour party stands for."

Shortly afterwards, Abbott released a statement saying: "I understand people have interpreted my comments as making generalisations about white people. I do not believe in doing that. I apologise for any offence caused."


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