(Adds new Mitchell comments)
LONDON May 14 A lawmaker from Britain's
opposition Labour party stirred a political row on Wednesday
after describing U.S. drugmakers Pfizer as "rapists" in comments
criticising the government for its handling of a potential
takeover of AstraZeneca.
The remarks, by Austin Mitchell, came as Pfizer
executives appeared in parliament for a second day to answer
questions from lawmakers over a potential takeover bid that has
fuelled a debate about whether the government should block deals
to protect British firms.
Prime Minister David Cameron said on Wednesday he was
looking for the best possible commitments from Pfizer on
continuing investment in Britain, in response to criticism from
Labour that his government was putting business interests before
the national interest.
"Cameron dare not stop Pfizer because he dare not offend the
US (United States) in any way. Roll up rapists," Mitchell posted
on social networking site Twitter.
Cameron's spokesman said Mitchell's analogy was "quite
wrong", while Nicky Morgan, the government's minister for women,
wrote to Mitchell's boss, Labour leader Ed Miliband, to demand
an apology and a retraction.
"People across the whole country will be appalled that
anybody would try to link a proposed corporate takeover with the
horrific crime of rape," Morgan said in the letter released by
Cameron's Conservative party.
Mitchell called the incident "a storm in a teacup" and said
he did not plan on making an apology.
"I may have been a little graphic. I should have used the
word rapacious, perhaps," he told BBC TV.
(Reporting by William James; Editing by Andrew Osborn)