Labour MP suggests Penny Mordaunt should be sacked over Turkey EU veto error
A senior Labour MP has urged David Cameron to consider sacking pro-Brexit minister Penny Mordaunt after she made “grossly misleading statements” about the EU, PoliticsHome can reveal.
Shadow frontbencher Toby Perkins questioned whether Mr Cameron could trust his Armed Forces Minister after she claimed the UK was powerless to stop Turkey joining the bloc.
Mr Cameron was forced to swiftly rebut Ms Mordaunt's claim yesterday, branding it "absolutely wrong" and insisting the UK would be able to veto any accession bid in the future.
He added that her false comments “call into question” her judgement and that of the wider Brexit campaign.
But Shadow Armed Forces Minister Toby Perkins has demanded an apology from Ms Mordaunt, and called on Mr Cameron to reconsider her position if she fails to do deliver one.
“More than 24 hours after her grossly misleading statements, we have still heard no apology or even a retraction from her,” Mr Perkins said in a letter to the Prime Minister seen by PoliticsHome.
“It seems totally unacceptable for the minister responsible for armed forces to play so fast and loose with basic facts.
“I would urge you to insist that this member of your Government sets the record straight by withdrawing her remarks."
Mr Perkins added: “If she refuses to do so, how can anyone expect the members of your Armed Forces to retain confidence in her, and indeed, as Prime Minister, how can you?”
Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr show yesterday, 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.”
"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.”
According to reports Ms Mordaunt was already on thin ice with the Prime Minister after she spoke against him amid the Panama Papers revelations into his family finances.
The row comes as the possible accession of Turkey to the European Union becomes a central facet of the referendum campaign ahead of the 23 June vote.
Mr Cameron has said it is “not remotely on the cards” that Turkey will become a member of the bloc in the foreseeable future.
But the Brexit campaign argues not only that Turkey is being lined up to join the EU imminently, but that the Prime Minister himself backs such a move.
The dispute also 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.
Read Mr Perkins' letter below.