RISHI Sunak has refused to say whether he backed the hardline language used by his Home Secretary on immigration, in which she warned of a “hurricane” of migrants arriving in Britain.

Suella Braverman appears to have made many of her Cabinet colleagues uncomfortable with her Conservative Party conference speech, seen by many as a leadership pitch should Sunak quit if he loses the next election.

The Tory leader squirmed when confronted with her words on BBC 4’s Today programme, dodging questions on her comments.

The National: Suella Braverman

Braverman (above), whose parents came to the UK from Kenya and Mauritius in the 1960s, told the conference: “The wind of change that carried my own parents across the globe in the 20th century was a mere gust compared to the hurricane that is coming.

“Because today, the option of moving from a poorer country to a richer one is not just a dream for billions of people. It’s an entirely realistic prospect.”

She previously likened the arrival of asylum seekers on small boats to an “invasion on our southern coast” in comments made in the Commons last year.

'Your words, not mine'

Asked whether Braverman had been right to vilify people coming to Britain as an “invasion” or a “hurricane”, the Prime Minister said: “What we need to do is make sure that the criminal gangs who are perpetuating an evil, who are taking advantage of all the people that you’re describing, leading to in many cases, tragically, them dying, need to be stopped.

READ MORE: Rishi Sunak compared to Margaret Thatcher for comments about trans people

“And we need to take action to stop them.”

He said “no-one should want to defend” the “evil” trade of people paying to come to the UK illegally and “being exploited by gangs”.

When it was put to him that he was happy with the Home Secretary’s remarks, Sunak said: “Your words, not mine.”

Comparisons have been made between Braverman’s language and Enoch Powell’s infamous “rivers of blood” speech, which was widely blamed for inflaming racial tensions in the 1960s.

Her Cabinet colleague Grant Shapps rejected the comparison in an interview on Wednesday, saying she had been “absolutely correct” to warn about the scale of global migration.

The National:

But Business Secretary Kemi Badenoch (above) told a Spectator conference event that politicians should be careful about how immigration policies are discussed, “so that people aren’t getting echoes of things that were less palatable”.

Fellow Cabinet minister Michelle Donelan also declined to repeat the language used by the Home Secretary.

Former justice secretary Robert Buckland said it was important to consider the reality of global migration, but urged senior politicians to “analyse in a mature way why these things are happening”.

'Virtue signalling'

The Prime Minister appeared to shift closer to the right wing of his party with an attack on “virtue signalling” in his own conference speech.

Weighing in on debates about sex education and transgender rights, he said: “A man is a man and a woman is a woman. That’s just common sense.”

While the Prime Minister appeared aligned with Braverman’s views on transgender people, he seemed to distance himself from her remarks on multiculturalism.

He dedicated a section of his speech to celebrating the UK as “the most successful multi-ethnic democracy on Earth” and emphasising his pride in being the country’s first British-Asian PM.

During a visit to the US last week, Braverman had attacked the “misguided dogma” of multiculturalism, saying it had “failed” – comments that the Prime Minister declined to endorse.

Asked whether there was any difference between his parents’ dreams of coming to Britain and those of people hoping to migrate now, he told Today: “There’s a big difference between coming here illegally and legally.”