David Cameron went out of his way today to praise Conservative ministers from ethnic minority backgrounds today, in an attempt to show how the party has modernised.
The prime minister struck a noticeably different tone than Theresa May. The home secretary triggered a backlash yesterday when she said it was "impossible to build a cohesive society" with high levels of immigration.
In his keynote speech to the Tory conference in Manchester, Cameron singled out Priti Patel, Sam Gyimah and Sajid Javid and said the party had gone on a journey to become a "modern, compassionate, One Nation Conservative Party".
Cameron will step down as party leader at some point before 2020 and his speech was studied his speech for signs of who his preferred successor is.
The prime minister lavished praise on his "Iron Chancellor" George Osborne as well as Boris Johnson. However Kremlinologists noted May was only name-checked in passing.
Theresa May might as well resign from the cabinet and open an off-licence.— Dan Hodges (@DPJHodges) October 7, 2015
Cameron is gently knifing Theresa May by repeatedly talking about the UK-born children of immigrants. Good on him— Jane Merrick (@janemerrick23) October 7, 2015
The way Cameron cites Sam Gyimha, Sajid Javid and Priti Patel suggests he does not agree with Theresa May about how rubbish immigration is— Giles Wilkes (@Gilesyb) October 7, 2015
Cameron told Tory activists today: "A few months ago, we were discussing childcare. It was introduced by the Black British son of a single parent, Sam Gyimah.
"He was backed up by the daughter of Gujarati immigrants who arrived in our country from East Africa with nothing except the clothes they stood up in, Priti Patel. And the first speaker was Sajid Javid, whose father came here from Pakistan to drive the buses.
"And he describes what the Tories have done. This is what we’ve done together."
He added: "And now with couples married because of us working people backed because of us the NHS safe because of us and children in the poorest parts of the world saved because of us, everyone in this hall can be incredibly proud of our journey – the journey of the modern, compassionate, One Nation Conservative Party."
May's speech, which she used to warn against high levels of immigration, was attacked by big business. The director of the Institute of Directors, Simon Walker, accused the Home Secretary of "pandering to anti-immigration sentiment."
He said: “We are astonished by the irresponsible rhetoric and pandering to anti-immigration sentiment from the Home Secretary."
And Boris Johnson's sister Rachel told LBC May's speech left her "depressed" for its failure to mention the benefits of migration.
"I just thought what would you feel if you'd come to the UK to make a new life here, put your back into a job and and she told you and she tells Britain that immigrants in Britain have done nothing?" Johnson told the broadcaster.
"I was slightly depressed by that and then an MP saw me and he said 'don't worry Rachel Tuesday of conference, it's always National Front day'."