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Scandal

Turkey accused of ‘blackmailing’ Britain and EU for £4.6bn to agree deal to tackle migration crisis

PM Ahmet Davutoglu turned up at Brussels summit and demanded twice as much in aid to put pen to paper

TURKEY was last night accused of “blackmailing” Britain and the EU after demanding a huge price for agreeing a ground-breaking deal to tackle the migration crisis tearing Europe apart.

Furious Eurosceptics let rip as Turkish PM Ahmet Davutoglu turned up to a pivotal Brussels summit and demanded twice as much in aid - £4.6 billion – before putting pen to paper.

The EU and Turkey had already agreed a provisional £2.3 billion “package of support” in November last year – including £250 million from Britain.

 Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu demanded twice as much aid at the Brussels summit
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Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu demanded twice as much aid at the Brussels summit

But yesterday the Turks demanded the same again – meaning a further £250 million from the UK - to be paid in 2018 before it agreed to take back tens of thousands Syrian refugees who have risked their lives to reach the EU.

Mr Davutoglu also insisted the EU rush forward a deal to allow 77 million Turkish citizens visa free travel – for 90 days at a time - to the so-called passport-free ‘Schengen’ zone on the Continent.

Talks over the travel deal were only expected to start later this year.

But under a deal put before David Cameron and the rest of the EU over a working dinner last night it could kick in from June.

Turkey also called for the resumption of talks over it becoming a full EU member.

The sheer scale of the shock demands stunned EU leaders – and meant no agreement was signed off last night after a marathon session of bad tempered talks.

Sources claimed the French were furious about the Visa plan while Hungary’s hardline leader Viktor Orban refused to agree to any compulsory relocation of Syrian refugees from Turkey across the EU.

On leaving just before midnight, David Cameron insisted the “basis for a breakthrough” was there.

But the setback means no agreement can now be reached on the migration crisis before another summit on March 17 in a disaster for the EU.

 David Cameron in Brussels today
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David Cameron in Brussels today

In the UK, livid Tory veteran slammed the Turks for holding the UK and Europe to “ransom”. He stormed: “The EU is allowing itself to be blackmailed.”

He told the Sun: “Turkey has facilitated the sale of oil for ISIL and allowed jihadists free travel over its borders to attack the Kurds.

“Given their behaviour is not what you’d expect from a NATO member what is being offered is really quite extraordinary.

“And it’s not just the money – it’s the visa free travel. Anybody with Turkish papers will be given free access. Can we be certain that anybody with Turkish papers is a bonafide citizen?”

The demands came with Turkey facing renewed criticism over human rights after the authorities seized the country’s biggest newspaper on Friday.

But before last night’s talks EU diplomats insisted the proposed deal with Turkey was a “potential gamechanger” which could finally stem the flow of 2,000 migrants a day reaching Greece.

 The EU leaders met with the Turkish PM in Brussels today
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The EU leaders met with the Turkish PM in Brussels today

Under the provisional agreement, Turkey would finally beef up its coastguard and “readmit” illegal migrants sent back from Greek islands, including Syrian refugees who have made the life-threatening trip.

For every Syrian sent back, the EU would take one from one the sprawling refugee camps in the war-torn border and “resettle” them in a member state.

Diplomats said the deal would smash the people smugglers’ thriving trade by proving it was not worth migrants making the trip to the EU.

Turkey also vowed to help set up safe areas in Syria for the hundreds of thousands of locals blown from their homes by the bloodshed.

Earlier yesterday, David Cameron said it was vital Britain “helped the Continent of Europe to secure its external border”. He reiterated that Britain would not play a formal role in any resettlement scheme.

Last night British officials added the extra £250 million bill will only be paid if the agreement with Turkey is delivering the required results at the start of 2018. One said: “The money will only be paid out if the system is working.

“If it’s not working then we’d be thinking about other options.”

 The migrant crisis is tearing Europe apart
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The migrant crisis is tearing Europe apart

Speaking at a late night press conference, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said: “A further £2.3 billion will be needed at the request of Turkey.

“We said in principle that this was a welcome approach.”

But UKIP chief Nigel Farage blasted: “It’s completely wrong headed of Cameron to support this move.

“The EU’s actions are going from bad to catastrophic. Turkey is a state with a terrible human rights record which has facilitated ISIS fighters and finance.

More than a million refugees and economic migrants have poured into the EU over the past year – with a further million expected to arrive by the summer.

Turkey has been slammed for not doing enough to stem the flow of migrants using the country as gateway to Greek islands such as Lesbos and beyond.

But furious Turkish President Recep Erdogan insists his country is struggling to cope with the near three million refugees camped out on its territory.

 Nigel Farage blasted the deal
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Nigel Farage blasted the deal

Yesterday he blasted the EU for failing to cough up any of the £2.3 billion-worth of aid agreed in November. And he stormed: “It’s been four months.

They are yet to deliver.

“My Prime Minister is currently in Brussels. I hope he will return with the money.”

Shock figures last week showed 1.255 million migrants filed first time asylum applications in the EU last year – with just 29 per cent coming from Syria.

Asylum claims in the UK soared 20 per cent to a ten year high of over 38,000.

Last night it emerged the fine on lorry drivers carrying illegal immigrants into the country could be hiked from the current £2,000 level – in a bid to get hauliers to do more to halt infiltrators.

The Home Office began a nationwide consultation yesterday after claiming the penalty levied on drivers or truck owners had beenthe same for 10 years.

It may also be extended to freight trains coming through the Channel tunnel under plans being looked at.

Lorries only escape the levy at the moment if drivers can prove they did all they could to stop illegal immigrants from climbing on board.