Vote Leave Turkey poster

On airwaves, TV interviews and on social media, a large number of prominent campaigners for Brexit have argued in recent days that staying within the EU would open our doors to Turkey, and its millions of citizens.

But not long ago, the same Tory MPs were arguing for Turkey to be admitted into the EU, Political Scrapbook has found.

On Sunday 22nd May, Tory minister Penny Mordaunt endorsed a controversial new Vote Leave campaign poster which shows dirty footprints entering a British passport (above).

The next day, Iain Duncan Smith told Radio 4’s Today programme: “Turkey has the EU over a barrel.”He went on to admit that while Britain did have a veto over Turkey’s membership, the British people didn’t.

But in 2005, IDS told the House of Commons:

I fully support Turkey’s membership of the European Union for all the reasons given by my hon. Friend the Member for Woodspring (Dr. Fox) and my other hon. Friends.

IDS was not questioned about this previous support for Turkey on the BBC.

Also on May 23rd, on BBC’s Daily Politics, Liam Fox advocated to leave the EU on the basis of Turkey joining the EU.

But in 2005, Liam Fox told the House of Commons:

We believe not only that Turkey should be allowed to join the EU, but that it should be welcomed into the EU. Those who reject Turkish membership should ask themselves whether they want a pro-western, secular and liberalising state or a fundamentalist, theocratic nation on Europe’s borders.

Liam Fox was not asked about his previous support for Turkey joining the EU either.

Similarly, Boris Johnson is a key figure at the Vote Leave campaign, but earlier made a video to advocate for Turkey joining the EU.

Several Tory MPs were also part of Conservative Friends of Turkey, including Dan Hannan MEP and (now at UKIP) Douglas Carswell MP.

Here is the full list from their website.

Conservative Friends of Turkey

The CFT is unambiguously in favour of Turkey joining the EU, according to its Objectives:

“Lobby in favour of Turkish membership of the EU with a stress on Turkey’s role in the bloc, the region and its strong ties to Western institutions”

And yet, in recent days UKIP’s Douglas Carswell has repeatedly warned his social media followers about the danger of Turkey entering the EU.


Such tweets are odd given Douglas Carswell MP himself was an advocate for Turkey joining the EU.

So is Daniel Hannan MEP, who told ConservativeHome in 2008:

I am in favour of Turkey being allowed to join; if I were Turkish, I would have severe doubts about the benefits.

In other words, key advocates for Britain leaving the EU, who have use Turkey’s potential entry as an argument against, were earlier for Turkey entering the EU.

Is there a more glaring example of the Brexiters hypocrisy?

  1. What does “while Britain did have a veto over Turkey’s membership, the British people didn’t” mean?

  2. Adam – It means in IDS’s view our government and representives in the European Parliament are not expected to vote the way we would want them to. Says all you need to know about our democracy doesn’t it?! Or at least that Tory’s version!

  3. @Nick Jones: Tory is not different than Labour!
    Re Turkey – it’s not joining the EU! They are NOT in Europe, they do not share European civilisation, they have nothing to do with us other than wars to invade our countries over the centuries.

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