Theresa May’s attack on international citizens “could have been taken out of Mein Kampf”, Lib Dem leadership candidate Vince Cable has claimed in a stinging criticism of his former cabinet colleague.
Cable, who served alongside May for 5 years in the Tory/Lib Dem coalition government, believes the Prime Minister used language that was “quite evil” when she addressed the Conservative conference last year.
In her speech in Birmingham, May attacked those who act like they have “more in common with international elites than with the people down the road.”
She said: “If you believe you’re a citizen of the world, you’re a citizen of nowhere. You don’t understand what the very word ‘citizenship’ means.”
Asked about the comments in an interview with the New Statesman, Cable said: “I thought that particular phrase was quite evil. It could’ve been taken out of Mein Kampf.
“I think that’s where it came from, wasn’t it? ‘Rootless cosmopolitans’? It was out of character for her.”
May made the comments as part of an attack on businesses who do not pay their “fair share of tax.”
She said: “If you’re a boss who earns a fortune but doesn’t look after your staff, an international company that treats tax laws as an optional extra, a household name that refuses to work with the authorities even to fight terrorism, a director who takes out massive dividends while knowing that the company pension is about to go bust, I’m putting you on warning: this can’t go on anymore.”
In the interview, Cable also claimed the EU referendum campaign reawakened the anti-immigrant feeling amplified by Enoch Powell’s infamous Rivers of Blood speech in 1968.
Cable returned to the UK that year after working for two years in Kenya, along with his wife Olympia, who had been raised in the African country by her Indian parents.
“[We] immediately walked into the ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech and all the hatred around that, and it was absolutely dreadful.
“You felt it. It was really nasty.”
Because of Olympia’s ethnicity, Cable said he has “always been conscious that that’s lurking in the background”, and the the EU referendum campaign showed that it is “not difficult to stir up these feelings all over again”.
Cable is so far the only candidate in the race to succeed Tim Farron as Lib Dem leader.