Brexit has made the UK 'warmer' to immigration, says Michael Gove

31 January 2020, 08:22

The UK flag outside the EU Parliament
The UK flag outside the EU Parliament. Picture: PA
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

The UK's 47-year membership of the European Union will formally come to an end at 11 pm on Friday evening.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson will address the nation and hail the "dawn of a new era."

Mr Johnson's speech will be shown at 10 pm just one hour before the UK's formal exit from the EU.

The PM is set to say Brexit is "not an end but a beginning" and will describe severing ties with the other 27 EU nations as "a moment of real national renewal and change"

The occasion will also be marked by a party led by Nigel Farage in Parliament Square, government buildings lit up in red, white and blue - and a countdown clock projected at Downing Street.

Prominent Leaver Michael Gove said Brexit had made the UK "warmer" to immigration.

He told reporters: "Obviously, we are in what's called a transition period for eleven months and during that time EU laws still apply.

"But we are moving further away from the orbit of EU rules and laws.

"For example, on migration, we can decide what the right policy is, who should come here and on what terms.

"All the evidence is, actually, that since we voted to leave the EU, that attitudes towards immigration have become more warmer and optimistic."

European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen told the BBC: "It is a very emotional day.

"I want to pay tribute to all these British citizens in the European Union who over half a century almost contributed to the European Union and made it stronger.

"You know it is the story of old friends and new beginnings now."

But, Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage tweeted: "At last the day comes when we break free. A massive victory for the people against the establishment."

Senior EU politicians have marked Brexit Day by expressing hope for continued strong ties with Britain but with warnings for the country over the consequences of the split.

In a letter published in newspapers across Europe the president of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, European Council leader Charles Michel and European Parliament president David Sassoli said the three bodies would do all in their power to make the EU's future partnership with Britain a success.

But they issued a reminder that the closeness of that partnership would hinge on decisions to be taken in the 11-month transitional period, "because every choice has a consequence".

"Without the free movement of people, there can be no free movement of capital, goods and services," they wrote.

"Without a level playing field on environment, labour, taxation and state aid, there cannot be the highest quality access to the single market.

"Without being a member, you cannot retain the benefits of membership."