Lady Warsi, 36, born to Pakistani parents in Dewsbury, Yorkshire, is the youngest member of the House of Lords. She came to public notice earlier this month when she was asked by Lord Ahmed, a Labour peer, to accompany him to Sudan to mediate the release of Gillian Gibbons, who had been jailed for insulting Islam.

The situation in Sudan had been extraordinary and "thankfully" could never happen in the UK, Lady Warsi told a race relations conference in London this morning.

"And yet it had echoes of situations we do get in Britain," she added, describing how cultural misunderstandings had exacerbated a local problem, which had then been taken up by religious and political leaders "busting for a fight".

"These three factors – local disputes, cultural misunderstandings and hardliners stirring up trouble – these are very familiar to us in Britain," she said.

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