‘In about the year 3,000’: British PM rules out Turkey joining EU anytime soon

Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron © Facundo Arrizabalaga
David Cameron ruled out Turkey joining the EU anytime soon, saying Ankara may join the bloc “in about the year 3,000.” The British prime minister was responding to comments from one of his own ministers who said that Turkey could join the EU.

In an interview with ITV, Cameron reiterated that Turkey joining the EU was not “remotely on the cards.” He also wanted to make it clear that the UK has a veto on any prospective member joining the bloc. 

“They applied in 1987. At the current rate of progress, they will probably get round to joining in about the year 3,000, according to the latest forecasts,” Cameron said. 

His comments were a furious rebuke of the Armed Forces minister Penny Mordaunt, who had said Turkey was likely to become a member of the EU within the next eight years. 

Using figures from the Leave campaign, Mordaunt said that 1 million Turks would settle in the UK over the next eight years, while there would also be an increase in threats to British security because crime is higher in Turkey than in the UK. 

“I believe that this is dangerous and it will make us less safe. That's why the safer option in this referendum is to Vote Leave and take back control,” she said.

Cameron accused Mordaunt of “flat out lying” and said it would be decades before Ankara could even contemplating joining the bloc. 

“Britain and every other country in the EU has a veto on another country joining and that is a fact. The fact that the Leave campaign are getting things as straight forward as this wrong I think should call into question their whole judgment for making the bigger argument about leaving the EU,” he said, speaking on ITV’s “Peston on Sunday.” 

“They're basically saying vote to get out of Europe because of this issue of Turkey that we can't stop joining the EU - that is not true,” Cameron said. 

Cameron is backing the Remain campaign ahead of the EU referendum, which is set for June 23. 

The British prime minister also warned voters on Sunday that people in the UK would face higher costs if the Leave campaign is triumphant due to an expected fall in the value of the pound. 

"Independent studies show that a vote to leave would hit the value of the pound, making imports more expensive and raising prices in the shops," Cameron said in a statement, as cited by Reuters. 

Experts say that if the UK quits the EU, the value of the pound will drop by 12 percent. This will mean that a family’s average shopping bill would rise by almost 3 percent or £120 ($174) per year. 

A poll published on Saturday for the Observer newspaper showed that 44 percent of Britons want to remain in the EU, while 40 percent of the population would like the UK to leave.

"There does seem to have been some move towards staying in the EU, particularly given that ours is an online methodology which typically shows a closer race than polls conducted on the phone," Adam Drummond of Opinium Research said, as cited by Reuters.