David Cameron slaps down own minister over Turkey EU claims

Posted On: 
22nd May 2016

David Cameron today hit out at Armed Forces minister Penny Mordaunt after she said Britain could not stop Turkey from joining the EU.

David Cameron says Turkey won't join the EU for "decades"
PA Images

The Prime Minister said the claim was "absolutely wrong" and insisted the UK would be able to veto any accession bid in the future.

Appearing on the BBC's Andrew Marr Show, Ms Mordaunt said: "We are not going to be able to have a say. I do not think that the EU is going to keep Turkey out, I think the migrant crisis is pushing it more that way.

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"If you're going to pursue that policy, and this is where we disagree with the Remain camp, you have got to allow us the tools to protect our own interests, to protect our national security, that we do not have."

But moments later on ITV's Peston On Sunday, Mr Cameron delivered a stinging rebuke to his ministerial colleague and said her comments showed the Leave campaign could not be trusted.

He said: "Let me be clear. Britain and every other country in the European Union has a veto on another country joining. That is a fact. The fact that the Leave campaign are getting things as straightforward as this wrong, I think should call into question their whole judgement in making the bigger argument about leaving the EU.

"It is very important, they’re basically saying vote to get out of Europe because of this issue of Turkey that we can’t stop joining the EU. That is not true, we can stop Turkey becoming a member."

Mr Cameron added: "Let’s be clear, as Boris himself said, Turkey joining the EU is not remotely on the cards. At the current rate of progress, it would be decades, literally decades before this even had a prospect of happening. Even at that stage we would be able to say no.”

The row comes just two days after Michael Gove said Britain's population could soar by 5.2 million by 2030 if Turkey, Albania, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia are allowed to join the EU, giving them access to the bloc's freedom of movement rules.