Writing in Exeter's Express and Echo, UKIP MEP William Dartmouth warns of the potential wave of immigration from Turkey should they be given EU membership
When Prime Minister David Cameron declared that he was in favour of Turkey being allowed to become a full member of the European Union it was possibly of little more than passing interest to people living in the Exeter area or indeed the South West.
After all why should it be? The huge waves of immigration that the UK has seen over the past few years has had little or no impact on the region.Immigration, with its huge demands on schools, hospitals, housing and social services, was a problem for places like London, Birmingham or East Anglia.
Yet I firmly believe that we in the South West should be concerned.I am not saying that overnight tens of thousands of Eastern European immigrants are about to arrive overnight.It may not even happen for two or three years.
But it would be foolish to shrug our shoulders and believe it has nothing to do with us.
Presently Turkey has a population of nearly 80 million people. They are the poorest nations in Europe and would have the second highest population the the EU behind Germany. Granting them full membership of the European Union would give every Turkish citizen the right to not only come here to work but to settle with their families.
Of course not every Turkish citizen would immediately up sticks and come to live here. But remember when Poland became a member?
The Labour Government told us not to be alarmed as only a predicted 13,000 people would come here from eastern Europe. In the end the figure was well over a million.
So why should we be concerned about Turkish membership
In the run up to the General Election few people - if any - realised what the Lib Dem policy on immigration was. Let me remind you.
It was to channel immigrants into areas of the country that had little or no immigrants. Away from the major cities and into areas where they could settle and work could be available. Places like the South West or the Scottish Highlands.
Few people took notice because everybody knew that the Lib Dems had no chance of gaining power.
But today - through a combinations of events, they are sharing power in a coalition government. They have not changed their policy on how to handle immigration.
And it is not just the threat of a wave of immigrants from Turkey. In recent weeks three EU member states, Bulgaria, Hungary and Hungary have issued millions of EU passports to their ethnic minorities living outside their own borders. People from places like Ukraine and Serbia.
Our membership of the European Union means that anybody with an EU passport has a legal right to come and work in Britain. Our government cannot prevent it.
Today it is not politically incorrect to talk of immigration. People have accepted that it is not about race its about space. We are a small and overcrowded island and in many places social services are buckling under the strain of our open door immigration policy.
It is not too fanciful to fear that in the next year or so the Lib Dems views on immigration will hold sway within the Coalition.
Another danger for the South West in the advent of Turkey joining the EU is that of funding. Because Turkey is so poor, with a GDP per head of around £10,000, it would qualify for huge amounts of development money at the expense of other countries and regions such as the South West.
In fact Cornwall and the Scilly Isles qualify for just over 77% of development money as compared to Essex which is eligble for nearly 100%.
That is why the threat to Exeter and the South West is very real. It is why dismissing immigration as a problem that somebody else will have to deal with is no longer enough.
Now is the time to let our elected representatives know that immigration must be controlled now to avoid huge problems in the future.