Ex-MI6 chief says EU access for Turks 'like storing gasoline next to fire'


A former head of MI6 says the European Union offering visa free access to millions of Turks is like "storing gasoline next to the fire" as he warns of a "sea of change" in continental politics.

Speaking on the BBC's World On The Move day, which has been addressing migration issues, Sir Richard Dearlove set out his concerns and thoughts.

He told the programme that "shutting the door on migration is not an option" and that the number of immigrants coming into Europe over the next five years could run into the millions.

"For the EU however to offer visa free access to 75 million Turks to stem the flow of migrants across the Aegean seems perverse, like storing gasoline next to the fire one is trying to extinguish," he said.

With 1.6 million migrants arriving in Europe last year, he warned that once established within the EU, the new arrivals will have freedom of movement across the 28 member countries.

He said the arrival of those on the continent has social and political consequences that are far reaching.

"The geopolitical impact is set to reshape Europe's political landscape as those citizens who feel, rationally or not, that their interests and cultural identity are threatened assert their influence," said Sir Richard.

"This has already happened in Austria with the resurgence of the defunct Freedom Party. Other extreme right populist parties in other European countries will follow."

He said the rise of extremist populist right wing movements suggest voters are disillusioned at the failure to control the number of immigrants.

And that Europe's current migration crisis is "more serious" than that of post-war 1945 because it is "global in nature".

The former spymaster said the impact of mass migration is "eating away at the willingness of EU states to act together".

He this is rendering the EU "impotent in the face of the most serious social and humanitarian problem" it has had to face.

Sir Richard added: "Europe's leading politicians, each caught up with their own problems, show little common determination to break out of this cycle of deterioration."

And he said the failure to meet the challenge of migration by the "present configuration of 28 vastly differing national interests" may have outlived its historical role.

He added: "The steady rise of extremist populist right wing movements in many European states suggests that many voters share this sense of disillusionment.

"The failure to control inward migration is the common denominator which explains their growth.

"Their rejection of the post war European dream may not yet be of sufficient strength to break the EU apart and Europe's conventional parties may yet be able to hold the line if improved control of migration can be achieved.

"However if a politician like Marine Le Pen of the Front National can command the support of one in four, perhaps even one in three, French voters this does represent a sea change in the Continent's politics."

Defence minister and Vote Leave campaigner Penny Mordaunt said there was "no doubt" the EU's failure to tackle the migration crisis is putting British citizens "at risk".

She said: "As Sir Richard Dearlove warned today, this failure is also leading to the prospect of populist uprisings across the continent.

"Sir Richard also rightly warned that the EU's decision to offer visa free access to 75 million Turkish citizens carries serious risks.

"He went on to highlight how this inevitably increases the likelihood of terrorism."