UK PM criticised for Turkey visit on trade, security cooperation

UK Prime Minister Theresa May at a Policy Exchange event (Flickr)

UK Prime Minister Theresa May is expected to meet with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan today and announce that they have established a working group to discuss the possibilities of a new bilateral trade deal after Brexit.

A Downing Street spokesperson said the main issues on the agenda in May’s visit to Ankara today were security cooperation and trade.

May has been criticised for the visit, which comes during a time of political turmoil and crackdown on the press and opposition.

“On the issues of freedom of the press and human rights, if they come up, she will state her view, which is unchanged. She has been clear about the importance of press freedom and human rights,” the Downing Street spokesperson said.

In an open letter the Barristers’ leaders and the Bar Human Rights Committee (BHRC) criticised the purge of more than 100,000 police, civil servants and academics, some of whom were later reinstated, the imprisonment of elected representatives and the violence against the country’s Kurdish population. The institution urged May to highlight threats to rule of law.

Kirsty Brimelow QC, chair of the BHRC said, “Turkey’s massive and disproportionate response to the attempted 2016 coup is now itself subverting the very same democratic values its government should be seeking to uphold.”