If Turkey joins the EU, we should leave

David Cameron in Ankara has said that “prejudice” is blocking Turkish accession to the EU. That’s the kind of cheap shot we’d expect from a Labour politician discussing immigration, not from a Conservative Prime Minister. He should pause and reflect that opponents of Turkish accession may have perfectly logical policy reasons for their opposition – as I do.

It’s worth reviewing some of the arguments used by Cameron and others on this issue.

“As a staunch member of NATO, Turkey should be rewarded with EU membership”. The USA is also a staunch member of NATO, but no one is suggesting it should join the EU. So is Norway, but it understands it is better off outside the EU. We should not be trading political union in exchange for military alliance.

“Turkey is an important trading partner with a growing economy”. True. So are China and India (I applaud Cameron’s initiative in India), but we’re not inviting them to join the EU. Turkey already has access to the Single Market, and has been offered a “privileged partnership”. Indeed I once spoke in the Strasbourg plenary on this, pointing out that a privileged partnership offered most of the benefits of membership with few of the costs, so was actually better than full membership – and I got a shock/horror reaction when I argued that such a relationship would be better for the UK too!

“Turkey in the EU would demonstrate that a moderate Islamic country can co-exist with Western values”. Maybe. I admire Turkey’s secular tradition. But the Turkish government is already struggling to keep the lid on Islamism. We might allow a secular Turkey to accede to the EU, only to find a few years later that we had a fundamentalist cuckoo in the nest.

“Turkey is a populous country with a young demographic – just the thing to off-set aging Western populations”. True. Turkey has a larger population than any EU country except Germany, and on current trends will overtake Germany within twenty years. If it joined the EU, it would expect the largest voting share. And here is the fundamental objection to Turkish membership: each new member-state dilutes what remains of our democracy and independence, and a very large state like Turkey dilutes it massively. I don’t see why Turkey should have a bigger say in making laws that affect us here in the UK than we Brits have.

But this raises another issue: immigration. It has now become respectable to speak about immigration, without Labour leaders shouting “Racist!” (which is why it is so disappointing to hear Cameron trotting out the “prejudice” card). At the last election, worries about immigration, not entirely unjustified, were a top issue on the doorstep. It is really extraordinary that we should be proposing to open the floodgates (are we allowed to say “floodgates”? I will anyway) to potentially millions of people from a very different and relatively poor country. In Germany there is a large Turkish population; in France there is a large North African population; and these groups have given rise to serious social problems and tensions. To say that is not to apportion blame; still less to demonstrate prejudice. It is simply a statement of fact, and no British government will be forgiven if it invites similar problems here. It would be lunacy to offer free movement to Turkey, not least because Turkey’s own borders are not secure from the east.

France & Germany have taken a much more rational approach to the issue, and though I hate to say it, this time Sarkozy and Merkel are right, and Cameron is wrong. Several continental countries have guaranteed their people a referendum on Turkish accession, and it is inconceivable that it would be approved. Indeed a cynic might conclude that Cameron was scoring cheap brownie points in Ankara by talking up Turkish accession, secure in the knowledge that he would never have to pick up the tab.

I suspect that any referendum on Turkish accession would be lost in the UK too. Certainly I find ordinary Conservative Party members bewildered by the Leadership’s obsession with Turkey, and almost universally opposed to Turkey in the EU.

Personally I should like to see more emphasis on the Anglosphere (Cameron’s India mission is an excellent start) and less on an EU whose centre of gravity is moving eastwards.

But let me offer an olive branch to Cameron and Hague: if they can reduce the EU to what it should be – a simple Free Trade Area – then I will lead the charge for Turkish accession. And Israel. And Taiwan. But not while the EU is a political union.

So in my view, if Turkey joins the EU, then the UK would be Better Off Out. Indeed come to think of it, the UK would be Better Off Out anyway.

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20 Responses to If Turkey joins the EU, we should leave

  1. Robert Darke says:

    if Turkey joins the EU, then the UK would be Better Off Out. Seconded! I can`t work out whether the PM`s encouragement for Turkish membership is a bizarre strategy to loosen the EU bonds which bind us or reflects a worryingly foolish belief which for most of us will be a disaster.

  2. Heather Alibakir says:

    Absolutely

  3. Peter Reynolds says:

    Cameron has got this one absolutely right. Bully Israel has to be stood up to. Turkey should be welcomed into the EU with immigration controls

    http://peterreynolds.wordpress.com/2010/07/27/cameron-calls-for-an-end-to-prison-camp-gaza/

    • “Turkey should be admitted with population controls”. But free movement of people is a fundamental principle of the EU — one of the four principles. Indeed it’s about the only membership “benefit” that Turkey does not yet enjoy. You might as well call for a square circle.

      • Peter Reynolds says:

        There’s provision for restrictions on immigration in the period after accession. I think we already have that in force on Bulgaria and others. that’s what we need to do with Turkey.

        Look, if it was up to me, we’d withdraw completely but that’s not going to happen. Therefore we need to make the most of it. Seems like a very sensible idea to me to include an Islamic nation into the club.

  4. Tapestry says:

    All politics is local, even in Turkey

  5. Sally McNamara says:

    Countering Turkey’s Strategic Drift, by The Heritage Foundation: http://bit.ly/aEBHLr

  6. John Bull says:

    If Turkey joins it will make a federal EU impossible, something you should welcome Helmer.

  7. Michael in Oz says:

    Cameron is nuts. Barking mad. Our recently ousted PM, Kevin Rudd, came out boldly asserting that Australia and Asia should dissolve into an open borders union by 2020. Fortunately he was sacked by his own party and the insane idea died with him. I would hope there are many in Cameron’s party alarmed at his bewildering lunacy. Sack him. Don’t wait 2.5 years like we did, sack him now.

    • Peter Reynolds says:

      I am proud of our increasingly confident prime minister. He has said exactly what needs to be said about Israle, Gaza, Turkey, India and pakistan. Spot on. Bull’s eye. Every time.

      If you think there’s any comparison between what you describe in your hemisphere and what’s happening in Europe you’re wrong.

      • James in Adelaide says:

        I don’t think there’s any comparison between Australia and Britain, or Europe in general Peter. We have no intention of surrendering our culture, heritage and institutions to Islam – in any form. I travel to Britain regularly, and have done so since 1980. I have seen your country change, rapidly, beyond belief. And not to the slightest advantage to the native born. Why do you wish to change your culture, Peter.
        And you seem to reply to everyone even though you are not the original author. Are you a ‘down-shouter’?
        Very good article by the way Roger.

      • Peter Reynolds says:

        Well do you want me to reply or not?

        I shout even louder here:
        http://www.peter-reynolds.co.uk

        And here you can read my concerns about the influence of Islam in Britain:

        http://peterreynolds.wordpress.com/2010/01/04/the-state-of-our-nation/

        You are very good at trying to put words in my mouth. I don’t want to “change” my culture but I expect it to develop.

        I’ll fight you to be first in the queue to defend Britain against “surrendering our culture, heritage and institutions to Islam – in any form”.

        I hope you enjoy my articles too

  8. John Bull says:

    Don’t adduce Spain and Greece considering them in any way comparable to a country that will have as much voting clout in the Council as Germany. Try giving 80 million muslim Turks a Christian line on social rights.

  9. Pedro says:

    Cameron and Obama’s puppet masters (the globalist-zionist complex or the NWO) will use Turkey to anihilate Europe for good! Throgh the abolition of its near-eastern border the hordes of muslim immigrant/invaders will flow at a rate that even with the present lax border controls would be difficult. There is a clear war agenda for Europe planned in the offices of the Kissingers, Soros Rotschilds and Netanyahus of this world, and this will be it: a balkan war on a gigantic scale.

    • Peter Reynolds says:

      It’s called paranoid hysteria. You poor deluded man!

      • Pedro says:

        Absolutely. Everything is ok, there are no conspiracies. The fact that ALL the leaders of the US, UK and Europe, both on the left and the right agree on abslolutely everything of importance, is not a sign that all major decisions are being fed by another more powerful force in the background. And whoever notices that is insane!

  10. ERIC GOODYER says:

    Dear Roger
    I hope you are well. I have been somewhat surprised at your lack of comment on this issue in the local media. I find it hard to accept your statement that you oppose Turkish membership of the EU, as support for Turkey’s Membership of the EU was clearly stated as a policy in YOUR EU election manifesto (see page 27)- so I have to ask was your manifesto wholly untrue?

  11. john says:

    The UK needs to realise that the age of empire is over. It’s time to embrace the future which is based on a strong EU. Why as a small nation do we spend so much on defence when we could rather pool resources with our fellow europeans. As for turkey being muslim, well they wouldn’t be the first in the EU! France has almost 10% Muslim population. The good thing about turkey is that it is secular and so a counter balance to radical islam. I for one welcome the day they join. the eu needs turkey and its strong relations with the muslin world. The uk should stop dreaming of past glories of empire and face up to the role it should play in europe today. European first, british second!

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