Michael Gove: EU Remain vote will result in immigration 'free-for-all'

Posted On: 
25th April 2016

Michael Gove has warned of an immigration “free-for-all” if Britain remains in the European Union.

Michael Gove and Theresa May with both stage interventions on opposing sides of the EU debate today
Credit: 
PA Images

The Justice Secretary said Britons would not be guaranteed “the same access” to housing provision and universal healthcare if there is a high level of immigration from five countries – Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Albania and Turkey – which want to join the EU.

In an a piece for The Times, Mr Gove attacked David Cameron’s renegotiated deal for the UK, saying it failed to achieve meaningful action to change the EU and actually would hinder Britain’s ability to veto further integration.

Michael Gove: Brexit will save UK and Europe

Michael Gove's full Brexit speech, 19 April 2016

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He wrote: “Because we cannot control our borders — and because our deal sadly does nothing to change this fact — public services such as the NHS will face an unquantifiable strain as millions more become EU citizens and have the right to move to the UK.”

Boris Johnson took a similar message in his Telegraph column, saying Britain had “absurdly and inexcusably given up” its veto rights.

The leading Leave campaigner also savaged the Prime Minister’s renegotiation with the 28 EU member states.

He said: “What did we get? Two thirds of diddly squat. We need to talk about that deal in the weeks ahead, because it shows how contemptuously we will be treated if we vote to remain.”

Home Secretary Theresa May, who is backing a Remain vote in June’s referendum, will make a major speech today setting out her reasons for supporting the UK’s continued membership of the EU.

She will say there are “certainly problems” caused by membership, and is expected to issue her own warning about the potential expansion of the EU.

Overall, however, she will argue the benefits outweigh the costs.

“Our decision must come down to whether, after serious thought about the pros and all the cons, we believe there is more in the credit column than in the debit column for remaining on the inside,” Ms May will add.

NHS

Despite a rebuke from the UK Statistics Authority last week, Mr Gove repeated the claim that EU membership “costs us £350m a week”, and suggested the money could be used to increase funding on the health service.

“We could transform the discussion on the future of the NHS if we used money we currently spend on the EU on our health service,” he said.

“If we vote to remain, we vote to put more pressure on the health service — we accept there will be many more people coming here to use our NHS, accept that we lose our veto over changes in Europe that will weaken all our economies and accept that the money available to invest in public services will decline.”

Mr Gove is one of the central figures in the Vote Leave campaign, which has shaped its message largely around sovereignty and economic issues so far in the campaign.

His comments about immigration come after Nigel Farage, who was closely associated with Grassroots Out, the other Brexit group which lost out to Vote Leave on official designation, criticised the campaign for not making more of the immigration question.