Britain more welcoming to migrants, says Brexit-supporting minister Gove

FILE PHOTO: Michael Gove the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs speaks during the National Farmers Union annual conference in Birmingham, Britain February 20, 2018. REUTERS/Darren Staples/File Photo

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LONDON (Reuters) - Britain has become more welcoming to migration since it voted to leave the European Union, environment minister and leading Brexit campaigner Michael Gove said on Monday.

Britain's 2016 vote to leave the EU has left the country deeply divided, with both sides of the debate entrenched in their beliefs and often still debating whether the divorce will help or hinder the world's fifth largest economy.

Concerns about migration were among the main reasons used by the "Vote Leave" campaign to increase support for Brexit and have remained a hot issue. Hate crimes in Britain have surged since the referendum, an increase the interior ministry said last year was fueled by the decision to leave the bloc.

Asked at an event whether he was wrong to suggest during the referendum that Turkey could join the bloc and spur migration, Gove said that Brexit had instead made people more open.

"The reason why I think the Leave campaign won was because people wanted to make sure we could have control of our borders, of our taxes, of our laws and all of that was part of a broader campaign to restore faith in our democratic institutions," he told an event organized by a think tank, the Policy Exchange.

"The referendum campaign has led to Britain becoming more welcoming towards migration and more open to new people arriving."


(Reporting by Elizabeth Piper; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

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