David Burrowes says Turkish small business visa arrangement has brought immense benefit to London and the UK
By Michael Daventry
A free European visa scheme used by Turkish nationals wanting to work in the UK must be retained after Britain leaves the EU, a local MP has said.
Enfield Southgate MP David Burrowes told Haber Newspaper that the so-called Ankara Agreement had immensely benefitted the UK and called on the British government to retain its terms after Brexit.
“The challenges of wanting to be an open, global, outward-facing economy [after Brexit] mean that you immediately look at those you have natural ties and relations with,” Mr Burrowes said. He described Turkey as an obvious choice because it is the second biggest importer of goods to Turkey after Germany.
Good for the UK
He continued: “we see that in eastern areas of my borough of Enfield how migration opportunities are linked to business opportunities and how, when we have this vexed issue of migration and trade, how we deal with issues of movement of people and the issue of opportunities for businesses.
“The Ankara Agreement is a good model of how as far it has impacted very positively in terms of enabling Turkish people to set up businesses in the UK and we see that obviously in North London. There are some excellent examples of how that’s been of immense benefit to London and the UK, and Turkey and the UK.”
The Ankara Agreement – formally known as the European Community Association Agreement – entitles Turkish nationals to bypass all domestic visa regulations and set up their own business in the UK.
The requirements are more generous than those offered to other non-EU citizens wanting work permits and applications are free of charge.
Thousands of Turkish passport holders have applied since Britain first started accepting applications in 2005, but there are fears in the community that Brexit will be used as an opportunity to withdraw the visa type.
Change its name
Mr Burrowes, who campaigned for Britain to leave the European Union, said a post-Brexit Ankara Agreement would probably have to be renamed and attached to a comprehensive trade deal between Turkey and the UK.
He said: “Before Brexit there were concerns that it may damage the Ankara Agreement. Now, it would need to be called something different as part of a wider, bilateral trade agreement with Turkey.
“But certainly, we should build on that agreement, we shouldn’t throw out what is the outcome product of the Ankara Agreement, which is the many businesses opportunities that are of mutual benefit.”
“President Erdogan touched on that when we talked about the aim to boost the volume of trade between Turkey and the UK from $15 billion to $20 billion,” Mr Burrowes added.
A Home Office spokeswoman told Haber that the Ankara Agreement’s future had not been decided because Britain’s exit negotiations with the European Union had not yet begun.