Boris Johnson: Brexit is about 'taking back control' of immigration

Boris Johnson was speaking outside a migration conference in Rome. Credit: RTV

Boris Johnson has said that while he is a "long standing supporter of immigration", within the UK it had "got out of control" and the Brexit vote was all about "taking back control".

The foreign secretary's comments came a day after it was reported four unnamed EU ambassadors said Mr Johnson told them he supported freedom of movement within the bloc, a position at odds with that of the prime minister.

On Thursday Mr Johnson stressed that while "immigration had been a good thing for the UK in many respects... it had got out of control and we need to take back control".

He added: "I think you will find the record reflects that."

When pressed by reporters, Mr Johnson shouted: "Take back control, that is why we are leaving the EU", as he made his way to a lift.

Theresa May had previously said that June's Brexit vote was a message from the British public that free movement of people from EU countries could not continue as it had done.

Speaking as he arrived at a migration conference in Rome, Mr Johnson refused to be drawn on whether he personally supported freedom of movement, instead answering: "The key point is that in or out of the European Union, we are coming out of the European Union but we are not coming out of Europe.

"We know that our commitment to European stability and security is vital and that commitment extends to the Mediterranean as well."

Brexit minister David Davis earlier said the report that Mr Johnson had told the ambassadors he supported freedom of movement were "completely at odds" with what he believed the former mayor of London's view to be.