Johnson denies using anti-Turkish slogans in Brexit referendum

Published 19.01.2019 00:00

Former British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson on Friday waffled on a question about how anti-Turkey sentiments were used by those in favor of the Brexit campaign in which he was a prominent political figure, by saying that he didn't say anything about Turkey during the referendum.

After a speech in Staffordshire, Johnson denied saying: "80 million Turks would come to the U.K." if Turkey joins the EU - a slogan used during the campaign before the EU referendum held in 2016.

Regarding his fluctuating views on immigration since 2013, Johnson was asked if he "would say anything to win an election."

He replied: "I didn't say anything about Turkey during the referendum."

Although he was reminded he was the leader of the "leave" campaign, Johnson repeated: "I didn't make any remarks about Turkey."

During the referendum campaign, the group campaigning to leave the EU used the anti-Turkish slogan to win xenophobic votes.

The "leave" campaign absurdly argued that if the U.K. remained a member state and in case of Turkey's membership in the bloc, "80 million Turks would come to the U.K." It was a misleading slogan that went unchallenged by any of the campaigning or advertisement watchdogs in the U.K.

Johnson, who is the great grandson of Ali Kemal, a politician who briefly was the Ottoman Interior Minister in 1919, has been against Turkey's membership in the EU, despite a generally supportive state policy by the U.K.

Prior to the referendum, Johnson and another leading figure in the "leave" campaign, Michael Gove, who is still a Cabinet minister, requested a guarantee from then Prime Minister David Cameron to veto Turkey's EU membership.

Turkey's journey to become a member o

f the EU has seen numerous ups and downs in the last 50 years. Turkey has always been open to cooperation, doing its part within the bounds of its capabilities in the negotiations, which started in 1963 with the Ankara Agreement. Yet, Turkey has been waiting for membership for decades as the EU keeps dragging its feet on the process.

Objections concerning why Turkey couldn't become a member have also dramatically changed. Instead of a lack of sufficient alignments in Turkish laws, many European leaders rejected the prospect of Turkey's EU membership from an identity-centered perspective and for political reasons.

Share on Facebook Share on Twitter