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UK finance minister George Osborne says Turkey won't join EU

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
British finance minister George Osborne speaking in the Houses of Parliament in London on April 19, 2016. (AFP photo)

British finance minister George Osborne says Turkey would not join the European Union (EU) during his lifetime, dismissing one of the arguments made by campaigners who want the UK to leave the EU and who are predicting higher migration if Turkey joins the European bloc.

Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, made the comments in an interview with BBC television on Wednesday, ahead of Britain's EU membership referendum on June 23.

"I don't think it's going to happen in my lifetime," Osborne said. "Is it going to be a member of the European Union? No, it's not."

In recent times, the Chancellor of the Exchequer has come to be the most powerful office in British politics after the Prime Minister.

"Turkey has gone backwards. There are concerns about democracy and human rights there," Osborne said. "British government policy is that it should not join the European Union today."

The “Out” campaigners, those seeking Britain’s exit from the EU, or Brexit, have said Turkey joining the EU could add to the large flows of asylum seekers already arriving in the country.

Concerns among some UK voters that the numbers of people immigrating to Britain is out of control is considered as one of the main weaknesses of the "In" campaign, which is supported by Osborne and Prime Minister David Cameron.

Last month, Cameron rejected the idea from "Out" campaigners that Turkey would soon join the EU, joking that its current progress toward accession meant it would not become a member until the year 3,000.

Cameron previously supported Turkish membership in the EU. In 2010, Cameron said he would be the "strongest advocate" for Turkey to join the bloc.

Vote Leave, the main campaign for Brexit, responded to Osborne's comments by saying the British government's position on Turkey was not clear.

"The government must now urgently clarify whether its policy on Turkey has changed. Is it now promising to veto Turkish membership?" a spokeswoman for the group said.

In May, Turkey said that EU membership remains a strategic goal, even as Germany and some other EU states remain opposed to Turkish membership.

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