Ms Abbott
May have to resign: Ms Abbott made the remark on her Twitter account.

Leader of the Labour Party, Ed Miliband, gave his shadow public health secretary, Diane Abbott, a "dressing down" and forced her to contract a controversial remark she made on her Twitter account.

Ms Abbott, who was appointed to the Labour's frontbench following Ed Miliband's election as leader, said: "White people love playing 'divide & rule'."

The deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg, was also angered saying the conmments were "crass and stupid."

Miss Abbott, the Labour MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington, was responding to a commentator who said she disliked the "lazy" and "monolithic" use of the term "black community" during coverage of the Stephen Lawrence murder trial.

The comment triggered masses of reaction on the social media network including some high profile names, counting Dragon Den's Duncan Bannatyne, calling for the Hackney MP to resign.

Tory MP Nadhim Zahawi demanded an apology and her resignation, insisting Mr Miliband must sack Ms Abbott if she would not stand down.

"A healthy society should not tolerate any form of racism," he said, adding that Ms Abbott, the first black woman to enter the Commons, "of all people should lead by example".

Ms Abbott was addressing a freelance journalist on Twitter yesterday when she wrote: "White people love playing 'divide & rule'. We should not play their game #tacticasoldascolonialism."

This morning she claimed her comments had been taken out of context.

Writing again on Twitter, she said: "Tweet taken out of context. Refers to nature of 19th century European colonialism. Bit much to get into 140 characters."