Prime Minister David Cameron has been accused of “appeasement” towards Turkey after footage emerged of him promising to “pave the road from Ankara to Brussels”.
Mr Cameron has insisted during the European Union (EU) referendum campaign that it will be “literally decades” before Turkey can join the bloc as fears grow over mass immigration.
Breitbart London also reported yesterday on speculation the Prime Minister may even announce a referendum on Turkish membership of the EU just days before the Brexit vote in order to take the initiative from Leave.
However, Vote Leave, the officially designated Brexit campaign, have now unearthed footage of a string of statements made by Mr Cameron in which he said he was “angry” at the lack of progress in getting Turkey to join the EU and said he would “fight” for it to happen.
As far back as 2005, just after he had become leader of the Conservative Party, David Cameron said: “We warmly welcome the accession talks with Turkey and Croatia,” complaining that progress had been “desperately slow”.
The following year, he said: “We support enlargement of the EU so we welcome the accession talks with Turkey.”
He then reaffirmed his backing after becoming Prime Minister in 2010, saying on a visit to Turkey: “It makes me angry that your progress towards EU membership can be frustrated in the way that it has been.”
“This is something I feel very strongly and very passionately about. Together I want us to pave the road from Ankara to Brussels,” he added, before claiming: “The case for Turkish membership of the European Union is indisputable… a European Union without Turkey is not stronger but weaker, not more secure but less secure, not richer but poorer.”
The Daily Mail reports that Justice Secretary Michael Gove accused Western leaders, including Mr Cameron, of ignoring human rights abuses in Turkey, saying the country had seen an “erosion of fundamental democratic freedoms”.
“With the terrorism threat that we face only growing, it is hard to see how it could possibly be in our security interests to open visa-free travel to 77 million Turkish citizens and to create a border-free zone from Iraq, Iran and Syria to the English Channel,” Mr Gove said.
“It is even harder to see how such a course is wise when extremists everywhere will believe that the West is opening its borders to appease an Islamist government.”