The former defence secretary urged voters to reclaim Britain’s “sovereignty” in the EU referendum, in order to protect the border as the European migration crisis grows.
The threat from the migration crisis could be “much worse” than the sex attacks in Cologne, Liam Fox has said, as he warned that terrorists could enter Britain posing as refugees.
In the strongest attack from a senior Tory so far on the Prime Minister’s pro-Europe campaign, Dr Fox told the Telegraph it was “beyond ridiculous” for David Cameron to claim that EU membership improved national security.
He said Europe posed many threats to the UK, from the economic turmoil in the Eurozone to a repeat of the scenes in which gangs of migrants assaulted women in Cologne on New Year’s Eve.
It could even be worse, with Jihadists entering Britain among the crowds of refugees in future, he said.
Dr Fox’s comments came after a Labour MP said the mass assault by migrant gangs in the German city were comparable to the treatment of women in Birmingham every weekend.
Jess Phillips, the MP for Birmingham Yardley, is facing calls to resign after the city’s residents and business owners said her comments were “irresponsible, highly inaccurate and misleading”.
In an interview with The Telegraph, Dr Fox warned that the influx of migrants into the EU posed a major threat to Britain’s security.
Southern European countries such as Greece and Italy “have no who these people are” who have arrived in boats from across the Mediterranean Sea, he said.
“A million last year, maybe two million this year – they have no idea whether these people are genuine refugees or asylum seekers, or economic migrants, or terrorists operating under the cover of either,” Dr Fox warned.
“If we remain in the European Union, if these people are naturalised in any other European country, they will have an absolute right to come to the UK. And we won’t know who they are either.
“We will have no idea whether these people are coming here to work, or coming to do us harm. People say, ‘you shouldn’t assume the worst’. But in a world where you’ve got Isil out there, you cannot afford to assume that there is no risk.”
Dr Fox rejected the idea that such warnings amounted to “scaremongering”.
“The Germans didn’t know who they were allowing into Cologne – nor would we if they were coming into Britain,” he said.
“It’s a legitimate concern and for people to say that’s scaremongering, you ask the women who were victims in Cologne if it’s scaremongering. Much worse could happen, if terrorists were using the cover of refugee status to advance their causes.”
In his first interview since launching the Grassroots Out initiative last weekend, Dr Fox said he would be willing to play “any” role” in the campaign to pull Britain out of the EU, including potentially as its leader.
He even hinted that he could consider a fresh bid for the Tory leadership after the referendum.
But he attacked the so-called “project fear” tactics that Downing Street is deploying to keep Britain in the EU.
Mr Cameron and pro-EU ministers have stressed the role the EU plays in fighting crime, standing up to Russia and tackling terrorism in recent weeks, warning that security would be at risk from “Brexit”.
It is beyond belief that rather than seeing that EU weakness as a risk to our security they say it’s essential for our security, Dr Fox said.
This idea that if we leave the European Union, they won’t cooperate with us on terrorism or they won’t want to trade with us, is beyond ridiculous. I can’t believe that grown up, intelligent politicians are even hinting at these outcomes.
Dr Fox has emerged as a potential figurehead for the “Leave” campaign in the EU referendum. Last weekend, he was the star speaker at a rally in Kettering of 2,000 activists which launched the third major, cross-party Leave organisation, Grassroots Out.
Dr Fox suggested he would be ready to become the leader of the Out campaign. I will play any role I am asked by any of the groupings, he said.
He also urged Mr Cameron to ensure Tory colleagues felt genuinely free to campaign to leave the EU, in the interests of helping the divided party come back together afterwards.
Dr Fox suggested he could stand again for the Tory leadership once the referendum has taken place, with Mr Cameron due to step aside before the next election.
It’s not something I am thinking about at the moment because our entire political landscape will be reshaped by the referendum. None of us can foresee what the ramifications of that will be. I am going to say what I believe during this campaign and then, like everybody else, I will reassess it afterwards, he said.