Michael Gove has admitted that the official leave campaign should not have stoked fears about Turkish immigration during the 2016 Brexit referendum.
In an interview included in a political book published on Thursday, the environment secretary, who was a key figure in the winning Vote Leave campaign, said that if it had been left entirely to him the leave campaign “would have [had] a slightly different feel”.
During the campaign Gove claimed that Turkey and four other countries could join the EU as soon as 2020, and their accession could lead to 5.2 million extra people moving to the UK by 2030 under free movement.
The Conservative minister was asked by Tom Baldwin, a former communications director for Ed Miliband, in his book Ctrl Alt Delete whether he had been happy making appeals to “some very low sentiments” in the context of concerns over Turkish immigration. The minister replied: “I know what you mean, yes. If it had been left entirely to me the leave campaign would have a slightly different feel.
“I would have to go back and look at everything I said and think whether that was the right response at the right time. There is a sense at the back of my mind that…