In the most extensive survey of its kind, almost 16 per cent of Turkish adults said they would consider re-locating to the UK once their country becomes a full member of the EU.
According to the poll, which saw more than 2,600 adults interviewed across all 27 provinces of Turkey, most of those keen to come to Britain are either unemployed or students, raising the prospect of a migrant influx which would place an unprecedented strain on the UK’s struggling public services, including the NHS.
The results come as separate figures expose the security risk posed to the UK by Turkey’s accession to the EU — an ambition previously supported by the Prime Minister.
Analysis by Vote Leave suggests Turkey’s membership in the EU would result in far higher numbers of criminals coming to the UK.
Figures released by the campaign group show the crime rate in Turkey far exceeds that of the UK, with the murder rate at least four times that of Britain.
There are also nine million privately-owned firearms registered to its citizens.
Last night David Davis said Turkey’s plans to join the EU was the strongest argument for Brexit, as he warned it would unleash a new wave of migration that would push down wages and threaten the country’s security.
Responding to the poll, the former shadow home secretary said: “You cannot blame young people who want a better life in Britain, but it will overwhelm our public services; it will have an extraordinarily depressing effect on wages and as a result it will cause real pain and penalties for the poorest in Britain.
“It will be the least well off who will be competing for the same jobs; competing for the same public services.
“That is why the prospect of Turkey joining the EU is one of the strongest arguments for the UK to leave.”
On the security risk, Mr Davis added: “This is the problem that dare not speak its name.
“If you look at the population in British prisons there are a disproportionate number of people of non-British origin in there and the reason is entirely predictable; Britain is a lucrative target for criminals.
“As our economy does well to someone from a very poor society who already has a criminal background this is a natural target.
“These are really important issues which we need to take seriously; they are not issues of race or bigotry; they are issues of real self-interest for ordinary people.”
Turkey, which has an 80 million strong population, is pressing its case to become a full EU member after wrestling the right to visa-free travel for its citizens across the Schengen Zone.
Full-membership would give the country’s predominantly Muslim population the right to free-movement across Europe, with un-fettered access to Britain.
Today’s poll reveals for the first time the intention of those living in Turkey if it joined the EU, with 15.8 per cent of the population — the equivalent of 12.6m people — in favour of making a new home for themselves and their families in Britain.
The survey was carried out by Turkey’s leading pollsters KONDA, which conducted face-to-face interviews with 2,685 Turks aged 18 and over between May 7 and 8.
Each person was asked the question: “If Turkey becomes a full member of the EU, and Britain remains in the EU, would you, or any member of your family, consider relocating to Britain?”
In total 15.8 per cent responded that they would consider emigrating to Britain, whilst 84.2 per cent said they were not thinking of making the move to the UK.
The wish to relocate to our shores was highest amongst the unemployed people surveyed, a staggering 36 per cent of whom expressed their desire to make the move.
Turkey’s unemployment rate has spiralled over the last year and hit 10.9 per cent in February this year, far above Britain’s rate of 5.4 per cent.
The next biggest group was the country’s two-million strong student population, with 34 per cent of those asked saying they planned to relocate to Britain.
Foreign Office Minister James Duddridge said: “These figures reveal the huge pressure our public services will come under if we stay in the EU.
“We will be powerless to stop millions of Turks accessing our schools, hospitals and housing, who will be attracted to the UK by our higher wages and living standards.
“We are currently sending over £1billion to Turkey to help them join the EU — the only way to stop this affecting the UK is to Vote Leave on 23 June.”
Prominent Tory eurosceptic Peter Bone added: “These figures demonstrate the true danger of remaining in the EU.
“Our public services are at breaking point and our housing stock depleted with the current situation of uncontrolled migration.
“Our country cannot accommodate another 12 million people.
“Unless we leave the EU, there is absolutely nothing we can do to stop this influx of Turks.”
As part of the survey respondents were asked for their religious and political views, their earnings and their level of educational qualifications.
Most Turks (46 per cent) who said they wanted to make the move described themselves as non-believers who live a “modern” lifestyle, with an even split between men and women keen on a new life in the UK.
However, lurking amongst the results were 10 per cent of religious hardliners who would also consider emigrating and nine per cent of women who wear head coverings such as the burka.
They also show that Kurds (24 per cent) and other ethnic groups (22 per cent) are far more likely to want to leave the country and come to the UK than indigenous Turks, while those who support hardline president Recep Tayyip Erdogan (nine per cent) are the least likely to make the trip.
The pollsters concluded: “There is no overall difference between people who work and those who do not, but those who are most likely to consider relocating are unemployed people (36 per cent), students (34 per cent) and people who work in the private sector (26 per cent).
“Looking at the different demographic and social groups, younger people, more educated people, non-Turkish ethnic groups, less religious people and people who consider themselves to have a ‘modern’ lifestyle are more likely to consider relocating to Britain.”
David Cameron has been one of Ankara’s biggest cheerleaders in Brussels, saying just 18 months ago that he “very much supports” its membership.
However, he has recently moved to downplay fears over mass migration from Turkey, stating that the country will not join the EU “for decades”.
Last night Malcolm Rifkind, former Foreign Secretary and Chair of the Intelligence and Security Committee and member of Britain Stronger in Europe, said: “This is a totally meaningless poll as Turkish membership of the EU is simply not on the cards.
“In nearly 30 years of negotiation, they have completed just one of the 35 tests they need to fulfil to apply to join.
“At this rate it would take them over 1,000 years to meet these criteria.
“And even then, the British Government has a cast-iron veto on any new country joining, including Turkey.
“If in the very distant future, they did become a member, our Government has the power to introduce rules to restrict immigration from Turkey.”