A lawmaker from Ed Miliband’s U.K. opposition Labour Party refused calls to apologize for comparing the proposed Pfizer Inc. takeover of AstraZeneca Plc to rape by the U.S. company.
Austin Mitchell said in a posting on Twitter that Prime Minister David Cameron “dare not stop Pfizer because he dare not offend the U.S. in any way. Roll up rapists.” His comments followed heated exchanges in the House of Commons between Cameron and Miliband over the deal today.
Called on to apologize by lawmakers from Cameron’s Conservative Party and other Twitter users, Mitchell refused. “Naughty me,” he later tweeted. “Substute rapaciousness before any more Physer defenders weigh in.”
Mitchell was later invited on to LBC radio and asked to apologize for the remarks. “I am not going to say sorry, that would be silly, I am not sorry,” he said.
“A lot of Tories have talked about the rape of the countryside by HS2,” he said, referring to the planned north-south high speed rail link. “I think it’s a word that’s used in other contexts too. I think this row is frankly entirely artificial. I think the storm is really a very defensive one by people who don’t like the takeover but don’t think they can stop it and therefore they’d rather turn the heat on something else.”
“The prime minister thinks that analogy is quite wrong,” Cameron’s spokesman Jean-Christophe Gray told reporters in London.
Labour’s treasury spokesman Ed Balls said in a later interview with LBC that Mitchell should apologize.