Turkey has ‘blackmailed’ Britain over the migrant crisis into backing its EU membership which would open the door to 77 million people, Tory MPs claim

  • Minister forced to deny claim million of Turks will be allowed to come to UK
  • Sir Edward Leigh demanded a tougher stand on Turkey’s EU membership
  • Concerns raised over human rights and freedom of speech record
  • For more of the latest news from Turkey visit

Eurosceptic Tories warned quitting the EU would be the only way to make sure Britain was not trapped into supporting free movement for Turkish citizens.

Former cabinet minister Liam Fox had earlier warned the millions of migrants who had already reached Europe’s shores could eventually become EU citizens and gain the right to move to Britain.

The row exploded in the Commons today amid growing concern over a deal struck with Turkey to help ease the migrant crisis.

Sir Edward Leigh Peter Bone Liam Fox

Sir Edward Leigh, left, and Peter Bone, centre, both used a Commons statement today to warn Britain could have to open its borders to 77 million Turks. Liam Fox, right, warned the millions of migrants settled in Europe because of the deal with Turkey could get EU citizenship and the right to come to Britain

A deal with Turkey on handling the thousands of migrants, pictured on the Greek-Macedonia border today, led to claims Britain was being blackmailed into supporting EU membership 

Europe Minister David Lidington dismissed the concerns, insisting any accession deal with Turkey was years away and free movement would be subject to negotiations.

But Gainsborough MP Sir Edward Leigh said concerns over human rights and the protection of freedom of speech should veto any current application.

He said: ‘You have been absolutely clear today it is Her Majesty’s Government’s considered opinion that Turkey should be a member of the EU.

‘Apparently we’ve allowed ourselves to be blackmailed into progressing this now.

‘Given the closure of the main opposition paper this week, Zaman, can you confirm as a matter of fact that once Turkey joins the EU – because the EU believes so passionately in the free movement of people – all 77 million Turks will be allowed to come and work here and live here without any check, opposition at all and there’s nothing we can do about it.’

Europe Minister David Lidington insisted there would be no rush to allow Turkish citizens access to the UK
Europe Minister David Lidington insisted there would be no rush to allow Turkish citizens access to the UK

Peter Bone, Tory MP for Wellingborough, said: ‘The British people can only be certain that 77 million Turkish citizens won’t have the right to come to this country… if we vote to come out of the European Union.’

Mr Lidington insisted: ‘We’re not yet at the point where anything has been finally agreed and the Prime Minister will make a statement after next week’s European Council.

‘The support for Turkey eventually joining the European Union is an objective that’s been shared by Conservative and Labour governments alike since before I was in the House of Commons.

‘You are not correct to say that this is going to be rushed, that is certainly not the history of previous accession negotiations, they take many years and there is a right of veto for every member state over every single decision associated with an accession process.’

Mr Fox had earlier claimed that even if Britain was not obligated to take any more migrants under the deal with Turkey, those who gain citizenship in Europe would eventually gain the right to come here anyway

He said: ‘Will you confirm that any of the one million migrants who have come to Europe in the past year and the million expected this year, once they are given EU citizenship, will all technically have a right to come to the United Kingdom as long as we remain in the European Union?’

Mr Lidington replied: ‘The fact we are outside Schengen means we do impose border checks on everybody, including EU citizens, and we do stop and turn back EU citizens where we have good reason for thinking their presence in the United Kingdom would be a threat to public safety.’


Turkey’s foreign minister today denied the idea his country was ‘begging’ the EU for money.

Turkey dramatically doubled its demand for funding during crunch talks on Europe’s migrant crisis this week.

The European Union and Turkey clinched a deal in November for three billion euros ($3.3 billion) in funds for refugees in return for Ankara’s cooperation in tackling the refugee crisis, unprecedented in the continent’s history since World War II.

But at talks in Brussels on Monday, Turkey stunned EU leaders by asking for an extra three billion euros in aid, along with visa-free travel to the bloc for Turkish citizens.

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, left, European Council President Donald Tusk, centre, and European Commission President Jean Claude Juncker, right, gave a joint press conference at the end of the summit yesterday 

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Wednesday defended the decision to ask for more money.

‘We see the unfair accusations targeting Turkey… It’s as if this money is given to Turkey. It is as if Turkey is begging for money,’ Cavusoglu told a news conference in Ankara, quoted by local media.

Turkey is hosting some 2.7 million Syrians fleeing the five-year war in their homeland, and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has criticised the EU for the four-month delay in disbursing the funds.

Under Monday’s tentative deal – which has to be confirmed by another EU summit next week – Turkey will take back all illegal migrants landing in Greece.

Ankara also proposed an arrangement under which the EU would resettle one Syrian refugee from camps in Turkey in exchange for every Syrian that Turkey takes from Greece, in a bid to reduce the incentive for people to board boats for Europe.

Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said that in taking the talks by surprise, Turkey had helped them clear a difficult impasse.

‘There was an opinion that it would be a problematic summit,’ Davutoglu told Turkish journalists on his flight back from Brussels, in comments published in the Hurriyet newspaper.

‘An unexpected move in such circumstances could push the other side to decisions which it cannot take in normal situations. They were not expecting such a move.’

Cavusoglu said Wednesday the idea was to stop the irregular flow of migrants, after more than a million reached Europe since the start of 2015.

‘This is a proposal which can be accepted by both sides,’ he said, adding that the EU appeared to agree to ‘many elements.’

‘Our cooperation with the EU is important. Our main goal is to stop irregular migration,’ he added.

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