Former foreign secretary Boris Johnson has been criticised for denying that he misled voters during the Brexit referendum campaign.
Johnson, who campaigned for Leave, was reported at the time as suggesting that 80 million Turks would come to the UK if it stayed in the EU.
But he denied ever making the comments as he took questions after giving a speech on Brexit at JCB’s Staffordshire factory.
Johnson was challenged to disown the claims by a Channel 4 reporter, but replied: “Since I made no remarks, I can’t disown them.”
Labour MP Chuka Umunna said Johnson had been caught out by ‘yet another lie,’ referring to other occasions when the Tory was accused of being less than truthful.
Johnson talked about the issue of Turkey joining the EU several times during the 2016 referendum campaign.
He correctly stated several times that it was official Government policy to support Turkey’s joining the EU.
The MP for Uxbridge was also a signatory to a letter to then Prime Minister David Cameron warning of the ‘accelerating pace’ of Turkey’s bid to join the EU.
In the letter, the government was told that if it could not guarantee it would block this, British voters worried about mass Turkish immigration would opt to Leave.
Johnson, who has a Turkish great-grandfather, was a high-profile member of the Vote Leave campaign.
It produced a poster during the campaign claiming: “Turkey, population 76 million, is joining the EU. Vote Leave – Take Back Control.”
Leave campaigners including Johnson were accused on distorting the true picture to give the impression that Turkish EU membership was imminent,
When he was asked about the poster on the Andrew Marr Show in 2016, Johnson said: ” I don’t mind whether Turkey joins the EU, provided the UK leaves the EU.”
He added: “It is the government’s policy that Turkey should join the EU.”
On Channel 4’s Great Debate programme he said: “Last time I looked, the government wants to accelerate Turkish membership.”
Turkey has been trying for years to secure EU membership and is no closer to success than it was ten years ago.