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UK Independent Party leader Nigel Farage told CNN the UK will have greater influence as an independent country

London CNN —  

It was a string of steady arguments that built support behind the “Leave” campaign, organizers and backers of that successful effort said Friday.

READ: What does Brexit mean for you?

Celebrating the Leave victory, UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage, who was at the forefront of campaigning for Brexit, told a group of journalists that the EU is “dying.”

He says the UK has now given itself “the chance to rejoin the world … June 23rd needs to become a national bank holiday and we will call it Independence Day.”

“I was written off as being a lunatic and politically the support for this was absolutely tiny,” Farage told CNN Friday.

“(It was) a little idea that was considered a little kooky, and 17 million voted for it and I couldn’t be happier.”

Boris Johnson, the former mayor of London, hailed the Brexit victory and reassured those who voted to remain that there was no need to panic: “This does not mean that the United Kingdom will be in any way less united, nor indeed does it mean that it will be any less European.”

05:41 - Source: CNN
Boris Johnson reacts to UK vote

’Noble idea … no longer right for this country’

While the UK has always had an arm’s-length relationship with the EU since it joined in 1973, the Leave campaign has consistently argued the UK has paid too much to be a part of the Union and that the country is being pressured by rules and regulations set by Brussels.

READ: The non-Brits guide to Brexit

After the announcement that the Leave campaign won, Johnson reiterated: “There is simply no need in the 21st century to be part of a federal government in Brussels that is imitated nowhere else on Earth. It was a noble idea for its time but it is no longer right for this country.”

While Prime Minister David Cameron fought for a “special status” that exempts the UK from many of the EU laws, Johnson warned in May that the EU was the latest manifestation of a 2,000-year project to unify Europe under a single government.

“Napoleon, Hitler, various people tried this out, and it ends tragically,” Johnson told the Sunday Telegraph.

“The EU is an attempt to do this by different methods.”

Farage said the move will give the UK “greater influence as an independent country … We’ll make our laws in our own parliament, in our own supreme court and control our own borders.”

For those unsure that Brexit is the right decision, Johnson reiterated it wasn’t entirely a goodbye to Europe: “Britain will continue to be a great European power, leading discussions on defense and foreign policy and the work that goes on to make our world safer.”

Goodbye to an open door immigration policy

During the campaign, the Leave supporters focused heavily on immigration. They argued that free movement in the EU meant Britain loses control of its borders.

EU membership allowed citizens from the other 27 countries to move to Britain and look for work without a concrete job offer. “Leave” supporters pointed to immigrants from struggling Eastern European states who were willing to work for low wages in their arguments about getting out of the EU.

“The introduction of the EU passport, whilst a good idea (because) it allows nice people to travel easily around the continent, what it also does is allow bad people to travel freely across the continent,” Farage said.

READ: What will immigration look like if Britain?

British Home Secretary Theresa May said free movement in the EU “makes it harder to control immigration.”

Pro-Brexit campaigners have suggested the UK establish an “Australian-style points-based immigration system.”

The idea is that those who have certain skills and qualifications that are worth more to the British economy will gain more “points,” which will help them reach a threshold that allows them to become eligible for a visa.

Whatever the future policy may be, there will be no change for EU citizens already lawfully residing in the country.

“These EU citizens will automatically be granted indefinite leave to remain in the UK and will be treated no less favorably than they are at present,” Vote Leave said.

What happens now?

Going forward, Farage told CNN his party “needs to stay strong to make sure the government actually carries out the wishes of the people.”

“We’re going to watch these negotiations like a hawk,” he said. “We’ve won the vote to become an independent nation, we now need to make sure it actually does happen.”

For those who voted to remain in the EU, he had one message: “Don’t worry.”

“I’d say to them, listen, our trading relationship today is exactly the same as it was yesterday. What we now have is a period of transition which we can get a sensible deal with our European neighbors,” Farage said.

“The exciting thing is we can do more globally and we are going to be better off as a result of this.”