SAJID Javid has claimed that “normal people” would not have heard Boris Johnson’s speech over the weekend and thought he was comparing voting for Brexit to the war in Ukraine.

The Prime Minister came under intense fire from across the political spectrum after he appeared to link the Ukrainian war against Russia to people voting to leave the European Union (EU).

READ MORE: Boris Johnson panned for comparing war in Ukraine to voting for Brexit

Johnson told his party’s Spring Forum: “I know it’s the instincts of people of this country, like the people of Ukraine, to choose freedom every time. I can give you a couple of recent examples.

“When the British people voted for Brexit in such large numbers, I don’t believe it was because they are remotely hostile to foreigners, it’s because they wanted to be free to do things differently, for this country to be able to do things differently and run itself.”

Javid claimed it was “spurious” to say Johnson had been drawing a comparison between Brexit and Ukraine. He said the Prime Minister had not been connecting the two nations’ situations “in any way”.

“I think most normal people listening to that wouldn’t have drawn that conclusion,” he added.

However, a source close to the Prime Minister told The Times he regretted making the comparison, adding: “It sounded better written down."

The Health Secretary went on: “What I heard from the Prime Minister was … basically the desire for self-determination in everyone, no matter what country they’re in, no matter what their circumstance, is strong.

“I don’t think in any way he was connecting the situations in Ukraine and the UK, and if we want to know what the Prime Minister thinks about Ukraine and responding, I mean, we can see for ourselves in terms of the support that he’s provided, rock-solid support compared to any other world leader.”

His defence of the comments echoed those of Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor.

Sunak said previously: “Clearly they are not directly analogous and I don’t think the prime minister was saying that they were directly analogous either.

″People will draw their own conclusions. People can make up their own minds.”

The comments drew international outrage after they were first reported, with former European Council president Donald Tusk writing: “Boris Johnson likens Ukrainians’ fight to British people voting for Brexit.

“I can still remember the enthusiasm of Putin and Trump after the referendum. Boris, your words offend Ukrainians, the British and common sense.”

Reports from The Mirror suggest it is "looking unlikely" that Johnson will be invited to European Council meeting in Brussels on Thursday amid anger about the comparison drawn in his speech.

Nicola Sturgeon shared a post from Anne Applebaum, a journalist and author based in the US, who said: "He is doing this because he knows Brexit is a disaster, it has isolated Britain, made Britain poorer, less influential.

"He needs extreme forms of hyperbole to cover the gap between that reality and the false utopia that he and others promised."