22 Apr 2016

Obama urges UK to stay in European Union

US President Barack Obama uses a trip to the UK to argue that the world benefits from Britain’s membership of the EU.

Ahead of June’s in/out referendum on British membership, President Obama said that as a “friend” of the UK, “the outcome of your decision is a matter of deep interest to the United States”.

Writing in the Daily Telegraph, he said Britain “should be proud that the EU has helped spread British values and practices – democracy, the rule of law, open markets – across the continent and to its periphery”.

He said: “The European Union doesn’t moderate British influence – it magnifies it. A strong Europe is not a threat to Britain’s global leadership – it enhances Britain’s global leadership.

“The tens of thousands of Americans who rest in Europe’s cemeteries are a silent testament to just how intertwined our prosperity and security truly are, and the path you choose now will echo in the prospects of today’s generation of Americans as well.”

While Barack Obama is lobbying for Britain to remain in the EU,
Republican Presidential frontrunner Donald Trump has said he expects
Britain to vote to leave.

Speaking on ITV's Good Morning Britain in March, Mr Trump said while he was not advocating Brexit, "I think that Britain will separate from the EU". He added: "I think maybe it's time, especially in light of what's happened, with the craziness that's going on with the migration, with people pouring in all over the place.

"I think that Britain will end up separating from the EU, that's my opinion. I'm not endorsing it one way or the other, but that's my opinion. I think a lot of people want to see that happen."

Before Barack Obama set off on his visit to the UK, Republican Presidential challenger Ted Cruz said he believed the President's intervention would increase support for Brexit among British voters.

President Obama’s intervention is a boost for the Remain camp, but was criticised by Leave campaigners, with London Mayor Boris Johnson accusing him of “hypocrisy” in an article in the Sun.

He said: “For the United States to tell us in the UK that we must surrender control of so much of our democracy – it is a breathtaking example of the principle of do as I say but not as I do.

“It is incoherent. It is inconsistent, and yes it is downright hypocritical. The Americans would never contemplate anything like the EU, for themselves or for their neighbours in their own hemisphere. Why should they think it right for us?”

‘Butt out’

Ukip leader Nigel Farage said: “President Obama should butt out. This is an unwelcome interference from the most anti-British American president there has ever been. Mercifully, he won’t be in office for much longer.”

President Obama said that “ultimately, the question of whether or not the UK remains a part of the EU is a matter for British voters to decide for yourselves”.

But he added that “the nations who wield their influence most effectively are the nations that do it through the collective action that today’s challenges demand”.