Boris Johnson has criticised public figures who blame immigrants for "everything that has gone wrong in a society" in a thinly-veiled swipe at Home Secretary Theresa May and Ukip's Nigel Farage.
The London mayor argues migrants are among a group of "scapegoats", including "Jews, foreigners, homosexuals, and gypsies", who are targeted during a "period of stress", and many of the problems attributed to them - such as a lack of jobs and housing - are "barely credible".
In his column in The Daily Telegraph, he does not name Tory leadership rival Mrs May, but it comes less than a week after her heavilly-criticised Conservative conference speech where she warned uncontrolled migration threatened community "cohesion".
And he alluded to a joke made by Ukip leader Mr Farage who blamed incomers for causing traffic jams on the M4 that made him late for a meeting.
Mr Johnson, elected as a Conservative MP in May, made a speech at the conference in Manchester that attempted to burnish his "One Nation" credentials.
In his column today, he writes: "When a community is going through some period of stress – a war, or economic hardship – they are historically far more likely to identify and turn on scapegoats in their midst.
"Anxiety is transferred to some readily identifiable group: Jews, foreigners, homosexuals, gypsies – the victims of this kind of prejudice have in some cases been suffering for centuries.
"Sometimes, barely credible powers are attributed to these groups, and they become a catch-all explanation for everything that has gone wrong in a society.
"Your kids can’t get a house? It’s the immigrants. Can’t get a job? It’s the immigrants. Can’t see a doctor in A&E? It’s the immigrants. Traffic on the M4? It’s the immigrants."