Jeremy Corbyn forced to abandon plans to call for Turkey to join EU

Posted On: 
6th May 2016

Jeremy Corbyn has been forced to withdraw plans to give a speech calling for all Turkish citizens to gain access to the EU amid concerns it would increase the chances of Brexit.

Jeremy Corbyn was set to visit Turkey later this month
PA Images

Labour sources told the Telegraph that the Labour leader had planned to travel to Turkey later this month and call for the country to join the EU, but the speech has now been scrapped after it sparked a furious internal row.

Pro-EU campaigners fear the prospect of Turkey's 80 million population being allowed to take advantage of freedom of movement rules could increase support for a Leave vote.

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One senior Labour source said: "The party needs a laser focus on the referendum and this level of malevolence from the leader's office is not helping. Labour members will not tolerate these stunts.

"Jeremy won't get away with such a malicious and naive plan to sabotage the campaign to keep us in Europe."

Mr Corbyn’s spokesman confirmed that he had delayed plans to travel to Turkey until after the EU referendum on 23 June.

Earlier this week, David Cameron told MPs that Turkish membership of the EU was “not remotely on the cards”.

“I will be absolutely frank with you, I don't think the accession of Turkey to the European Union is remotely on the cards.

"I don't think it will happen for decades. "I would say very clearly to people, if your vote in this referendum is being influenced by considerations about Turkish membership of the EU, don't think about it.

"It's not remotely on the cards. It's not an issue in this referendum and it shouldn't be."