Boris Johnson has said he will support Turkey’s EU membership bid, just months after the Brexit campaign he championed warned of the same scenario.
The foreign secretary said he would help “in any way” to secure Turkey’s status as an EU member, despite Britain voting to leave.
He made the comments on a visit to Turkey, where he is seeking to strengthen diplomatic ties after the high-stakes Brexit campaign.
Johnson has previously campaigned for the EU to spread its membership eastwards, saying in 2006 that “our generation has a historic chance... to build a bridge between the Islamic and Christian worlds”.
But Vote Leave, the Brexit campaign he backed, appeared on busses and spoke at rallies for, repeatedly used the possibility of Turkey joining the EU membership to warn of 76 million people flooding into Britain.
The move shocked some people, who suggested Johnson’s support for Turkish EU membership did not tally with Vote Leave’s open hostility before the June 23 vote.
MP Tom Brake, patron of Vote Leave Watch, told The Huffington Post UK: “Boris Johnson’s cynicism and dishonesty knows no bounds.
“Just months ago the campaign he ran warned that if Britain remained in the EU, gangs of marauding Turkish criminals would come here. But now he announces that he will support Turkey’s accession to the EU.
“If anything exposes the pack of lies that made up the manifesto of the Leave campaign, it is this.”
While social media users suggested Johnson’s comments were “hypocrisy in action”.
Johnson maintained on his visit to Ankara that Britain would stand “shoulder-to-shoulder” with Turkey, and praised the country for the “remarkable work” it was doing dealing with the refugee crisis.
The foreign secretary also outed himself as the “proud possessor of a beautiful, very well-functioning Turkish washing machine” and said Brits were lucky to be the biggest recipient of exports from Turkey.
Despite his ancestral links to Turkey, Johnson has a strained relationship with the country and its leader.
In May Johnson entered a ‘most offensive Erdoğan poem’ competition and won a £1,000 prize for penning the best limerick mocking Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
His limerick called Erdoğan a “wankerer” who had sex with a goat.