José Ángel Gurría, 67, is the Secretary General of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and had previously stated that the UK leaving the European Union (EU) would have “substantial negative consequences” on people’s living standards.
However the respected Mexican economist has now changed his mind, saying that he thought Brexit would have very little impact.
Speaking in Paris at the launch of the OECD’s report on migration he said that the quality of life in the UK “will probably remain to a very great extent as it is today”.
He said: “The quality of life (in Britain after leaving the EU), you know, will probably remain to a very great extent as it is today, because the values will remain the same.
“There may be some things that change. We do not know to what extent – it’s very early.”
Mr Gurría stated: “Since the decision was taken, I think what we all have to do is make sure the process proceeds as smoothly and as seamlessly as possible, with the least disruption and the least costs.”
He added that the impact on immigration to the UK would depend on the form Brexit eventually took and whether or not it became “a more attractive place to go to work”.
The report showed that nearly one in 10 people living in the UK last year were foreign citizens with the number of overseas residents rising by 6.4 per cent to a total of 5.95 million.
In 2015 631,000 foreign nationals arrived in the UK with net migration at 332,000.
The OECD chief had previously been a critic of Brexit.
In a report published by the body a month before the referendum vote last year he warned that leaving the bloc would impose “a persistent and rising cost on the economy” amounting to the equivalent of £2,200 per household by 2020.
In ‘The Economic Consequences of Brexit: A Taxing Decision’ published in April 2016 it stated: “In some respects, Brexit would be akin to a tax on GDP, imposing a persistent and rising cost on the economy that would not be incurred if the UK remained in the EU.”
The OECD is an intergovernmental economic organisation with 35 members and was founded in 1960 with the aim to stimulate economic progress and world trade.