ISTANBUL: Theresa May today signed a fighter jet deal worth up to £100million with Turkey. During a visit to Ankara, the Prime Minister announced that the UK’s BAE Systems will work with Turkish Aerospace Industries on the fighter plane programme, known as TF-X. Mrs May – who was also seeking to make progress on a post-Brexit trade deal with Turkey – unveiled the deal flanked by the country’s Prime Minister, Binali Yıldırım. She declared: ‘This agreement underlines once again that Britain is a great, global, trading nation and that we are open for business. ‘It marks the start of a new and deeper trading relationship with Turkey and will potentially secure British and Turkish jobs and prosperity for decades to come.’ It is hoped Britain could win contracts to provide engines, weapons, radars and sensors. Ankara is the latest leg of Mrs May’s 10,842 mile trip between Britain, America and Turkey to drum up trade post-Brexit.
Mrs May earlier met its controversial president Tayyip Erdogan, after flying into Turkey in her way from historic talks with President Trump in the White House. Civil rights groups have been piling pressure on Mrs May to tackle President Erdogan head-on over human rights abuses. He has jailed thousands of people, including journalists, in a crackdown after a failed coup against him last year. The jet deal was put on hold last August as Britain assessed the ferocity of President Erdogan’s response to the attempt to bring him down. But Mrs May said it was now getting the green light to proceed. BAE Systems Chief Executive, Ian King, said the deal could ‘pave the way for a deeper defence partnership and could effectively make the UK Turkey’s partner of choice, positioning it as a key aerospace technology exporter to Turkey.’ Mrs May is also expected to set up a working group to look at lifting trade barriers with Turkey. It is the 13th country she will have begun working with in this way since Brexit. In response to human rights questions about Turkey, No10 has repeatedly stated that It is an important strategic ally, both as a member of NATO and in working to stem the tide of migration into Europe over the past two years.