Turkish official says people will not 'flood' UK if Turkey joins EU, not even for our Maltesers


Just when you thought the EU referendum debate couldn't get any weirder, one of Turkey's influential officials has announced that the Turkish people will not "flood" the UK if the country joins the EU. Not even for our chocolate.

Ilnur Cevik, who is close to Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, criticised both David Cameron for "taking us for a ride" by indicating he supported the country joining the EU and the Leave campaign for using the prospect as "an alibi" for Brexit.

He said Turkey is "deeply hurting" now that the Prime Minister has indicated he is unlikely to support its EU membership after Brexit campaigners used the potential accession to warn that it could open Britain's borders to millions of Turks.

Turkey's new President Abdullah Gul, right, listens to Ilnur Cevik
Turkey's President Abdullah Gul, right, and Ilnur Cevik (Burhan Ozbilici/AP)

But responding to the Leave campaign's claims that it could mean more Turkish criminals in the UK, Cevik told BBC Two's Newsnight: "Firstly, the crime rate is not high.

"Secondly, there's no extraordinary situation in this country that we would export anything to Britain. But besides that, who's going to come to Britain? Why should we be flooding Britain? There's no reason. Whatever exists in Britain also exists in Turkey. We are not going to go over there just because you produce Cadbury chocolates and Maltesers, for God's sake."

On the Brexit campaign, he said: "They should not use us as an alibi, they should not use us as a pretext, they should really deal with the nitty-gritty of why they should be leaving."

A view of a pack of Maltesers made by Mars showing the Fairtrade certified cocoa logo.
Maltesers made a surprising entry into the EU debate (Nick Ansell/PA)

Meanwhile, Cameron repeated his prediction that Turkey may not be able to join the EU until the year 3000.

Asked about Leave warnings of a potential early accession for Turkey, the Prime Minister told LBC radio: "The issue simply isn't going to arise. As I have said, this is the reddest of red herrings.

"At the current rate of progress, Turkey could qualify to join in about the year 3000. You have to open and close 35 chapters of negotiation. They've opened and closed one."