Leading Liberal Democrat Sir Vince Cable has accused Theresa May of using “evil” language which could have been taken from Hitler’s book Mein Kampf.

The former business secretary, who is so far the only person to throw his hat in the ring to succeed Tim Farron as Lib Dem leader, hit out at the Prime Minister’s controversial Tory party conference speech in which she said people who believe they are a citizen of the world are “a citizen of nowhere”.

Sir Vince told the New Statesman: “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.”

Tory MP for Eastleigh Mims Davies called on the ex-coalition cabinet colleague of Mrs May to withdraw the comments.

“It is disappointing and surprising that such an experienced politician, who wants to lead the Liberal Democrats, chooses to throw around Nazi slurs like Ken Livingstone. Vince Cable should reconsider and retract this ill-judged comment.”

Sir Vince also referenced Enoch Powell’s notorious 1968 anti-immigration “rivers of blood” speech, saying that the Brexit referendum showed that it is “not difficult to stir up these feelings all over again.”