Does Penny deserve #MordauntFacts mockery?

by Luke Lythgoe | 20.06.2016

A tweet from Penny Mordaunt, which denies the UK’s right to veto Turkish EU membership, has exposed the eurosceptic minister to social media ridicule via the hashtag #MordauntFacts. Her justification for the tweet just piled on more errors.

The first responses were also Turkey-themed.

But it wasn’t long before the tweets started becoming surreal.

InFacts contacted Mordaunt for further comment on her tweet, made shortly after David Cameron’s appearance for the Remain campaign on the BBC’s Question Time special. It transpired the key phrase in her tweet was “NATO ally”.

Mordaunt told InFacts: “As Lord Owen has pointed out, the UK cannot use the veto, having given Turkey every encouragement to join, without massive fallout with a NATO partner.”

Fellow Leave campaigner David Owen did indeed say this. In an interview for Sky News on May 22, he said if the UK attempts to veto EU membership, Turkey “will also say, if you can’t keep your word on this, what’s the point of us being members of NATO?”

This is clearly a value judgment. What is a fact is that, at a time when Russia is acting aggressively in the region, NATO membership guarantees Turkey protection by the US if it is attacked. It is also a fact that Turkey cannot join the EU unless all the other member states agree. Even Owen said he “wouldn’t dream of denying it”.

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Mordaunt also justified her tweet by telling InFacts: “Thirteen weeks ago we agreed to accelerate its (Turkey’s) accession and the EU are spending 17bn to assist that.”

The EU agreed to open one additional “chapter” of criteria that Turkey must meet in negotiating with Brussels. This is hardly a significant acceleration.

It seems highly unlikely “against the backdrop of Turkey becoming less democratic” – in Mordaunt’s own words – that chapters on justice and freedom of expression will be opened any time soon.

Mordaunt’s “17 billion” figure is also inaccurate. The EU has put aside €11.7 billion (£9.1 billion) to help Turkey and six other countries prepare for membership over a seven-year period. It has pledged another €3 billion to help Syrian refugees in Turkey. But the latter sum is for humanitarian assistance, not help for accession.

Edited by Alan Wheatley

One Response to “Does Penny deserve #MordauntFacts mockery?”

  • Someone should point out to her that some of her key Leave chums also seem quite keen on Turkey joining ASAP. We all know this isn’t happening, but the rank hypocrisy is something to behold.

    The founder member and aims sections of the Conservative Friends of Turkey website (assuming it is legit) are interesting: cfot.org.uk

    No comment so far from Boris, Carswell or Hannan (head of the Brussels chapter apparently).