Iain Duncan Smith says 'Turkey is on the ballot paper' as Tory splits widen on Europe

Posted On: 
10th May 2016

Iain Duncan Smith today told voters that "Turkey is on the ballot paper" in the EU referendum as he claimed only Brexit can help the poorest in society.

Iain Duncan Smith says Brexit will help the poor
PA Images

In a direct swipe at David Cameron, the former Work and Pensions Secretary dismissed the Prime Minister's claims that Turkish accession to the EU would not happen for "decades".

Anti-EU campaigners have warned that Turkish membership of the EU will give millions of their workers complete access to the EU jobs market under freedom of movement rules.

But appearing before MPs last week, the Prime Minister tried to play down those fears and insisted it should not be part of the referendum debate.

He said: "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 an issue in this referendum and it shouldn’t be."

But speaking in London this morning, Mr Duncan Smith directly contradicted his leader.

He said: "Turkey is on the ballot paper because the EU is on the ballot paper. As I understand it, the Prime Minister and others said they wanted a road paved from Brussels to Ankara.

"The EU has made it very clear that they are going to get visa-free travel and then enter the EU. It is on the ballot paper, everything to do with the EU is on the ballot paper."


The former Tory leader, who quit the Cabinet in March in protest at George Osborne's Budget, also used a speech to stress that the low-paid have most to lose if Britain stays in the EU.

He said "uncontrolled migration" from EU countries with much lower wage rates than the UK will drive down pay levels and make it harder for British people to find work.

"My plea to better off Britons who have done well in recent years is to consider using their vote in the referendum to vote for a better deal for people who haven’t enjoyed the same benefits as them," he said. "Because the EU, despite its grand early intentions, has become a friend of the haves rather than the have-nots."

He said immigration levels had risen by 50% since 2010, putting pressure on public services like schools.

"As always, when public services are under pressure, those without the resources to afford alternatives are most vulnerable. In short, getting a place in your local school gets more and more difficult," he said.

Mr Duncan Smith also claimed that leaving the EU could "advance social justice across the continent" by encouraging other countries to challenge Brussels.

He said: "Brexit should be the moment when Brussels finally decides to give member states more freedom to design economic, social and migration policies that reflect the democratic will and particular needs of each individual state.

"Given we are so uninfluential inside the EU, our maximum moment of influence might be in leaving. Confronting the rest of the EU with the need and opportunity to radically change its structures is the most socially just and, indeed, European-friendly service that Britain can provide to our neighbours across the Channel."