britain flag, engleska zastava.jpg
Photograph: Photo by UpSticksNGo Crew, used under CC BY

Justice Minister Michael Gove on Tuesday warned that Britain faces higher immigration if it remains in the European Union, backing a Vote Leave campaign for the country to adopt a "more effective and humane," points-based immigration system.

"At the moment any EU citizen can come to the UK to settle, work, claim benefits and use the NHS (National Health Service)," said Gove, who is one of the leading ministers publicly opposing Prime Minister David Cameron's campaign for Britain to remain in the EU after a referendum on June 23.

"We have no proper control over whether that individual's presence here is economically beneficial, conducive to the public good or in our national interest," Gove said.

"As long as we are in the EU we cannot control our borders and cannot develop an immigration policy which is both truly humane and in our long-term economic interests," he said.

In a remark that appeared to be partly aimed at voters with family members in non-EU nations, Gove said that "as the price of EU membership, we have to impose stricter limitations on individuals from other nations whom we might actively want to welcome."

"Whether it's family members from Commonwealth countries, the top doctors and scientists who would enhance the operation of the NHS, or the technicians and innovators who could power growth, we have to put them at the back of the queue behind anyone who's granted citizenship by any other EU country," he said.

Some campaigners who have non-EU family members have backed a British exit from the EU, or Brexit, because they feel disadvantaged by tougher immigration rules introduced by the government amid claims that migration from EU nations was too high.

Syed Kamall, a Conservative who represents London at the European Parliament, last month said immigration was "a crucial deciding factor" in his backing of Brexit.

Kamall said he "wants to see an immigration policy that is balanced and fair - where we treat everyone outside the UK equally whether they are from an EU country or not."

"As the son of immigrants who came from a non-EU country, this is my deeply held conviction on an issue that matters deeply to me," he said in a statement on his decision to back Brexit.

Immigration is expected to be a key issue in campaigning ahead of the referendum. The two main campaign groups have accused each other of using scare tactics over immigration, finance, business, security and other issues.

On Monday, Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne presented a Treasury report claiming that the average British household would lose 4,300 pounds (6,100 dollars) annually if Britain leaves the EU.

The Commonwealth includes 53 states, most of which were once ruled directly or indirectly by Britain.

As Britain rebuilt its post-war economy in the 1950s and 1960s, it encouraged immigration from Commonwealth nations, especially those in the Caribbean and the Indian sub-continent.

Latest news

Serbia's EU negotiator says minority rights neglected

The head of the Serbia's European Union accession negotiation team, Tanja Miscevic, said in Novi Sad on Wednesday that minority rights had been neglected for many years and added that positive results in that regard cannot be achieved over night, the Beta news agency has reported. 

Scientists: Nearby star's 7 rocky planets are "best bet" for life

New analysis of telescope data shows a dwarf star just 40 light years from Earth has at least seven apparently rocky planets with potential to harbour water, an international team of scientists announced Wednesday.

Croatian PM receives EIB Vice-President

Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic met on Wednesday with European Investment Bank (EIB) Vice-President Dario Scannapieco for talks on the bank's contribution to a new investment cycle in Croatia and its support to the Croatian government to implement key projects, a press release from the government's office said.

Bomb explodes outside police officer's home in Northern Ireland

A bomb exploded outside a police officer's home in Northern Ireland on Wednesday but there were no immediate reports of casualties.

Denmark to charge man with blasphemy over burning Koran

Danish prosecutors said Wednesday they have opened a rare blasphemy case against a man who videotaped himself burning a copy of the Koran.

South Africa to raise taxes for the wealthiest

South Africa will raise the income tax rate for the country's wealthiest to 45 per cent from 41 per cent, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan announced Wednesday.

Reformist Macron wins support of key centrist leader for French vote

France's reformist presidential hopeful, Emmanuel Macron, got a boost on Wednesday when he picked up the support of a party leader whose centrist constituency played a pivotal role in the last two presidential elections.

Amnesty International warns of nationalist rhetoric and hate speech in Croatia

Croatia continues to have problems with discrimination against ethnic minorities and with freedom of the media, while heightened nationalist rhetoric and hate speech during election time contributed to growing ethnic intolerance and insecurity in the country, global human rights watchdog Amnesty International said in its annual report on the state of human rights in the world in 2016/2017.

Official assigned to Wilders' security team held by Dutch police

A security official assigned to protect Dutch far-right politician Geert Wilders is being held by police on suspicion of passing along classified information about the lawmaker to a Dutch-Moroccan crime gang.

100th anniversary of rescuing starving children marked

A special ceremony was held in Zagreb's Croatian National Theatre on Wednesday to mark the 100th anniversary of one of the greatest humanitarian undertakings in the history of the Croatian people which saved children in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina from famine in the last two years of World War I.

Italy's 'Red Thing' could make impact in election debut, polls show

Two polls conducted for RAI public broadcaster released Wednesday showed a new entity that split from Italy's ruling Democratic Party

Council: Nixing grants to "Novosti" would cause far-reaching implications

The Council for National Minorities, a state-level autonomous umbrella organisation for all ethnic minorities in Croatia, has stated that the cancellation of financial grants to the "Novosti", a newspaper of the ethnic Serb minority, would produce far-reaching implications and stir criticism for reduction of free speech and of freedom of expression of the most numerous ethnic minority.