Daily Express

Ross Clark

- Political commentato­r

that, free movement from Turkey would hugely facilitate migration from the rest of Asia and the Middle East through its porous southern borders.

British taxpayers, along with others in wealthier EU member states, would inevitably be fingered for even more developmen­t funds to boost Turkey’s infrastruc­ture. More worrying still, it would mean having in the EU a country with a lousy record on human rights.

How can it be consistent with the EU’s supposed commitment to liberal democracy to have a member state where insulting the president is punishable by four years’ imprisonme­nt? Anyone fancy Turkish judges one day presiding over British affairs in the European Court of Justice?

Then there is the Islamic question. That Turkey’s population is 97 per cent Muslim wouldn’t matter were the country still committed to secularism. Yet by degrees sharia law ( abolished in the 1920s) is creeping back into Turkish life. While Turkey has been on a charm offensive towards Western Europe ever since it first applied for EU membership in 1987, culturally and politicall­y it has been sliding towards the Islamic world.

Negotiatio­ns towards Turkey’s entry into the EU began in 2005. Until recently they seemed to have stalled as Turkey failed to satisfy the EU on human rights. Yet the migration crisis has changed all that. There is now a possibilit­y that Erdogan might succeed in his mission to bounce the EU into accepting it as a member.

After all, he has Cameron on his side who said in an address to the Turkish parliament in 2010: “I’m here to make the case for Turkey’s membership of the EU, and to fight for it.” The Prime Minister has said nothing since to suggest he has changed his mind.

The EU finds itself pathetical­ly begging Turkey for help over the migration crisis because it has mishandled the problem for years. It is only right and fair that we in the rest of Europe should be helping to fund camps in Turkey, which has absorbed 2.5 million Syrian refugees.

But it would have been even better had the world, through the United Nations, got together earlier and secured parts of Syria itself for refugee camps. That’s where the vast number of Syrian refugees are: 6.6 million have not even left their country but are internally displaced within it.

AT THE same time the EU has been negligent in tackling the peopletraf­fickers who have grown rich out of the deadly business of shipping refugees and economic migrants across the Mediterran­ean.

Yesterday it was announced that a British naval ship is heading to the Aegean in an attempt to intercept the migrant vessels. But this murderous trade should have been closed down years ago. The trafficker­s should have been jailed, the migrants returned whence they came and the boats sunk so they couldn’t be used again.

Instead, the EU’s cogs seem to shift into gear only once migrants physically arrive in Europe. Admitting Turkey into the EU is not going to solve the problem. All it would achieve is to trigger a new crisis, with millions of Turkish economic migrants taking advantage of the freedom of movement. It is a prospect to which David Cameron seems utterly blind.

‘ By degrees sharia law is creeping back’

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United Kingdom