Melanie McDonagh Melanie McDonagh

Britain’s stated aim of getting Turkey to join the EU is mad

Rather to my embarrassment, I find that I missed last night’s episode of the BBC2 three-part series on The Ottomans, Europe’s Muslim Conquerors, in which I briefly featured. So Heaven knows what I actually said in it; it’s been a while since filming. But I’m rather hoping that the point I wanted to get across did, viz, that it’s nuts, barking mad, insane, away with the fairies, for Britain to be agitating for Turkey to be part of the EU. On David Cameron’s last visit to Turkey in 2010, he expressed anger at the delay in Turkey’s admission to the Union and blamed opponents for playing on fears of Islam in order to advance their case. Which more or less mirrors the rhetoric from Labour on the same subject. Turkey=moderate Islam in the Foreign Office view of things, so embracing Turkey is a means of promoting the kind of Islam we like rather than the sort we don’t, with happy consequences at home. They think.

Actually, I take issue even with that assumption that Turkey’s contemporary form of Islam is invariably tolerant, moderate, inclusive and generally consistent with our own prejudices; it doesn’t quite square with a close examination of the rhetoric and practice of Prime Minister Erdogan, especially in the wake of his own Istanbul Spring earlier this year, to which he gave rather short shrift.

The very basic point I was trying to make, though, was that EU membership brings with it the right to live and work anywhere within the Union. So in theory, upwards of 75 million people would have the right to settle anywhere they like in the EU; it’s a reasonable assumption, given the size of the Turkish community in Britain, that quite a few would want to settle here, though less than the number that would gravitate to Germany.

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