Boris Johnson has suggested that many countries are unlucky to have missed out on the "benefit of British rule".
The London Mayor made his provocative assessment as he explained how Winston Churchill, about whom he has just written a book, would have been "amazed" at the current economic progress of countries like India, once part of the British empire.
"I think he would have been philosophical about the loss of [the British] empire," he told an audience at Bleinheim Palace, the wartime leader's birthplace in Oxfordshire. "He would understand that it had to happen."
"He would have been very proud at the continuing legacy of Britain in those places around the world, and particularly I think he would have been amazed at India, the world's largest democracy, and a stark contrast with other less fortunate places that haven't had the benefit of British rule, if I can say this on the record.... why not? It's true, it's true."
Johnson managed to aim a few veiled swipes at the coalition, going on to target Britain's current immigration policies, something he has repeatedly criticised before.
"He [Churchill] would have been slightly amazed that we have a different regime for immigration purposes for people coming from Australia, New Zealand and Canada than we do for people coming from Croatia and Germany and everywhere else that fought against us in the Second World War," he said.
Johnson also said that Churchill would have been concerned by growing inequality in Britain,saying: "He'd have been concerned about how the march of technology is being managed, the winners and losers, whether income gaps were widening.
"He felt very strongly... that there should be more done to help the poorest. He would be concerned about what is happening with society today and the wealth gap."
With Eurosceptic voices like Ukip rising in Britain, Johnson predicted that Britons would vote to stay part of the European Union in any referendum, and that the former Tory prime minister would have wanted it that way.
"If you look at Europe, the one thing I can certainly tell you is he'd want Britain to be involved. He would not under any circumstances wanted the prime minister of Great Britain to be excluded from some major European summit, he invented the word summit. He wanted us to be there.
"The way things are going now, it is highly likely that this country will be the middle of this century be the most powerful economy in the European Union, if we are still members, which I suspect we will be, we will be leading."
Denis MacShane on "Churchill Howlers from Boris"
The London Mayor lavished praise on Churchill, suggesting that he was a political "one-off" who left many contemporary politicians looking like "three-toed sloths" by contrast.
He chose to compare the experience of writing his new biography - the Churchill Factor - to climbing Everest.
"I think I have got to the summit - and just as I haul myself over - I see another aspect of Churchill glimmering in front of me, another huge peak in the distance.
"Most of all today's politicians have more in common with one-eyed pterodactyls or three-toed sloths than they do with Winston Churchill, he was a one-off.," Johnson said, praising Churchill as a "very tough guy".
"He is driven in a way that a softer, gentler generation might find harder to understand."