British PM sorry for Tourette's jibe at opposition lawmaker

8th January 2012, Comments 0 comments

British Prime Minister David Cameron was forced to apologise after telling a Sunday newspaper that a senior Labour lawmaker's heckling was "like having someone with Tourette's sitting opposite you."

His comment about Ed Balls, Labour's finance spokesman whose gestures and comments aimed at the premier have become a fixture of his weekly grilling in the House of Commons, triggered an immediate storm of criticism.

Cameron's Downing Street office moved quickly to stop the backlash, insisting late Saturday that the remark about the inherited neurological condition had been "off the cuff."

"The prime minister would not have meant to offend anyone. He apologises if any offence has been caused," said a spokeswoman.

Referring to Balls, Cameron told the Sunday Telegraph weekly: "He just annoys me.

"But I'm very bad, in the House of Commons, at not getting distracted, and the endless, ceaseless banter, it's like having someone with Tourette's permanently sitting opposite you."

Labour lawmaker Ian Lucas branded it a "very nasty and ignorant comment".

Twitter was abuzz with outraged comments, with "Tourette's" becoming one of the microblogging site's top trending topics in Britain.

"Don't use a medical condition to get petty laughs," said one angry user, while another found the comment "seriously badly advised, not prime ministerial."

© 2012 AFP

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