Less than three weeks left to Referendum Day and the debate has moved on to the issue which will surely sway the vote: yes, the big red button marked IMMIGRATION has been pushed.

Yesterday the Brexit double-act of Boris Johnson and Michael Gove declared that our biggest challenge was indeed rising population as a result of immigration.

And among those able to walk across our borders are terrorists, drug smugglers, human traffickers and other criminals, said Gove.

Those opposed to unregulated immigration now point in particular to Turkey which has been trying to join the EU since 1987.

The Turks have now moved many steps closer by agreeing to help stem the flow of migrants to Europe through Greece in return for billions of euros in compensation and a speeded up application.

Turkey, the gateway to Europe from Asia and the Middle East because of its borders with Syria and Iraq, could even be eligible to become of member of the EU by 2025, according to the Brexiteers.

While summer holidays to Turkey’s seaside resorts such as Bodrum or Dalaman have become popular with Britons in recent years, the reality inside the country is very different as I discovered over lunch with a good friend who is a Turkish journalist.

I dare not mention his name, or even where we met, for fear that one day he and his family could suffer consequences because of his hatred for the President of Turkey, Rceep Tayyip Erdogan (pictured) the despot who is at war with his own people.

It was this conversation which convinced me that Turkey should never be allowed to join the EU.

If my friend had published his thoughts about Erdogan in Turkey, he too would be rotting in jail along with many of his colleagues who have dared to openly criticise the President and his government.

There is no future for anyone in Turkey who does not acquiesce to state control over freedom of speech or complies to the denial of their human rights.

Erdogan appears determined to cleanse the ethnic minority Turkish Kurds therefore killings, torture and rigged trials are commonplace.

But it is his provision of succour to terrorists and his alleged supply of weapons to Islamic State in return for oil which sends a shudder down the spine.

“It’s true”, says my friend, “but those journalists who documented this are no longer able to speak out”.

My friend took the only decision open to him: unable to work, he fled Turkey in the hope of building a new life in the west with his wife and child. He turned his back on his own country.

Arguably, David Cameron has made a rod for his own back because of his support for Turkey’s membership of Europe. He has gone on record saying that it is “vital for our economy, security and diplomacy.”

More recently, the Prime Minister has attempted to row back from this position by suggesting that Turkey was more likely to join the EU sometime around the year 3000.

Those in favour of Turkey joining the EU point to the opportunity of building a bridge between Europe and Asia — a new “silk road” — particularly since Turkey plays a major role in transporting oil and gas from Russia.

Then there’s the prospect of showing other Muslim nations that they too could have common ground with western liberal democracies.

But none of these arguments helped sway my friend to stay in Turkey.

When Erdogan seized control of the Turkey’s biggest daily newspaper Zaman in March, its archives were wiped and the following day’s edition carried his smiling picture on the front page.

The Brexiteers are right about Turkey. It must be kept out of Europe.


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