James Forsyth

Vote Leave has brought out its Turkish weapon

Vote Leave has brought out its Turkish weapon
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Vote Leave feel that they now have the momentum in this campaign. The three polls out today all have them ahead. Inside the Leave camp, they think that it is their focus on the possibility of Turkey becoming an EU member that is, in part, responsible for this apparent shift in their favour. So, in their official referendum address, which will go to 40 million people, Vote Leave is going big on the question of Turkish accession. The leaflet — which you can see here — has a map on the back showing how if Turkey joins, the EU would border both Syria and Iraq.

Now, I can already hear David Cameron rebutting this by saying that there’s no chance of Turkey becoming an EU member anytime soon and that they won’t be in the EU before the year 3,000. But the problem for Cameron is that it remains UK government policy to support Turkish membership and Vote Leave are planning a big ad blitz using the video of Cameron saying he wants to ‘pave the road from Ankara to Brussels’.

Back in March, I wrote about how promising a referendum on Turkish accession would be the nearest that David Cameron could come to a Scottish-style vow if the polls were against him in the days before the referendum. But having repeatedly claimed that Vote Leave are scaremongering by talking about Turkey joining, he would be reluctant to offer a referendum that would suggest that it was something that might happen. It is also unclear whether Cameron could even announce this if he wanted to given the purdah rules, which ban the government from announcing any policy that could affect the referendum result.

What’s for certain, though, is that the IN Campaign need to get the debate off immigration and EU enlargement. For if that is what dominates the discussion between now and June 23rd, Leave calculate that they will win the referendum.