LONDON — Vince Cable has told Business Insider that he does not regret comparing language Prime Minister Theresa May used last year to Mein Kampf, insisting that it was a “statement of fact” and a “quite reasonable” comparison to make.
This week the Liberal Democrat leadership hopeful told the New Statesman that May’s use of the phrase “citizens of nowhere” in her 2016 Conservative Party conference speech “could’ve been taken” from the autobiographical book by Nazi Party leader Adolf Hitler.
“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,” Cable said.
When Business Insider asked Cable if he regretted the suggestion that May and Hitler had something in common, the MP for Twickenham said:
“Well, I was simply making a statement of fact. I think the phrase ‘rootless cosmopolitans’ actually comes from that source. I did say in the following sentence that it was very out of character and that Theresa May is not extreme in that way and I made that very clear.”
“Anyone who actually read what I said rather than the headlines would have realised that what I was saying was quite reasonable.”
The phrase “rootless cosmopolitan” does not actually appear in Mein Kampf, but there is a section in which Hitler describes his belief that because Jews travelled widely they were less loyal to any particular nation: “In the Old World, too, Jewry was an active ferment of cosmopolitanism and national decomposition, and was for that reason a preferred full-fledged member in the Caesarian States, the politics of which were in truth nothing but cosmopolitanism, and the folkdom of which was essentially nothing else than humanity,” the book says. Later, Josef Stalin promoted the phrase as an antisemitic slur in the 1940s to condemn critics of the Soviet Union.
Business Insider spoke to Cable following his appearance on a panel at the Business And Education Summit in central London, where Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and Education Secretary Justine Greening were also speaking. The former Business Secretary criticised the Labour Party policy of scrapping higher education tuition fees, telling business and education representatives: “What the leader of the opposition is saying is popular. But it is foolish and dangerous.”
Cable — who won back his London seat in last month’s election — is set to be appointed leader of the Liberal Democrats shortly after nominations close on July 20, with no other Liberal Democrat figure expected to challenge the veteran MP. Cable will replace Tim Farron who announced his resignations following the June 8 general election.
Business Insider’s full interview with Cable will follow.