Mr Miliband appeared to call across the Dispatch Box for an immediate apology, but Mr Cameron instead told him: "I said calm down, calm down, dear. I'll say it to you if you like. I'm not going to apologise. You do need to calm down."
Downing Street said the "humorous" remarks should not be over–interpreted. But a spokesman for Mr Miliband said they were "patronising, sexist, insulting and deeply un–prime ministerial".
Harriet Harman, the deputy Labour leader, said: "David Cameron's contemptuous response to Angela Eagle MP at Prime Minister's Questions today shows his patronising and outdated attitude to women. Women in Britain in the 21st century do not expect to be told to 'calm down, dear' by their Prime Minister."
Ed Balls, the shadow chancellor, who is married to Miss Cooper, accepted that Mr Cameron's remark was a joke but said his wife would have "clocked him one" if he had made a similar remark. "Look, he was making a joke but it was pretty silly of him and he'll regret it," he said.
Miss Eagle said: "I don't think any modern man would have expressed himself in that way."
Mr Winner called on Labour to "get a sense of humour" adding: "There's enough gloom in the world."
He said: "It's ridiculous that people should talk about this seriously. It's a comedy phrase I wrote about 10 years ago. What planet is Harriet Harman on if she thinks this is demeaning women?
"I'm quite flattered he used the phrase but then everyone uses it. There's nothing remotely sexist about it. To call someone dear is not sexist unless to politically correct lunatics. There are a lot of things defiling women, such as prostitution, domestic violence. Harriet Harman should deal with them first."
Downing Street said Labour "stoked" the row after Mr Miliband performed badly at Prime Minister's Questions. A source said he needed to deflect attention from good economic figures.
Danny Alexander, the Liberal Democrat Chief Secretary to the Treasury, said the Prime Minister had been making a joke but that if it caused offence, it was "not right" to have said it.
Thursday, 28 April 2011
Video: Calm down, dear: David Cameron's 'sexist' taunt to Labour MP - Telegraph