Global Independent Analytics

Visiting UK, Obama Urges Britain to Stay in EU; Meets with Cameron

"I believe the UK strengthens both our collective security and prosperity through the EU"

Voice of America reporting: In a somewhat controversial move, the U.S. President Barack Obama has jumped right into the heated debate about a very touchy subject.

The President cautioned British citizens about murky prospects of leaving the EU after a June 23 referendum in which British voters will decide whether their country will remain in the European Union and urged Britain to remain in the bloc.

"I believe the UK strengthens both our collective security and prosperity through the EU," Obama said. He added that divisions in Europe would weaken NATO.

He warned that Britain would go to the back of the queue when it comes to trade deals with the U.S. if it leaves the EU.

"Let me be clear. Ultimately, this is something that British voters have to decide for themselves. But as part of our special relationship, part of being friends is to be honest and to let you know what I think. And speaking honestly, the outcome of that decision is of deep interest to the United States, because it affects our prospects as well," Obama added.

"In all the areas we've discussed today, our collective power and reach is amplified by Britain's membership of the European Union. Let me be clear, when it comes to the special relationship between our two countries, there's no way to (inaudible). I'm very proud to have been the prime minister and stand outside the White House, listening to this man - my friend Barack - saying that the special relationship between our countries has never been stronger," Cameron said.

“The United States sees how your powerful voice in Europe ensures that Europe takes a strong stance in the world, and keeps the EU open, outward looking, and closely linked to its allies on the other side of the Atlantic. So the U.S. and the world need your outsized influence to continue – including within Europe,” Obama wrote in a column published in The Telegraph newspaper.

President Obama’s comments on the situation provoked some who back Britain’s exit to respond in a somewhat harsh manner. Mayor of London Boris Johnson said U.S. leaders “would never contemplate anything like the EU for themselves." Johnson has accused the U.S. leadership of hypocrisy on this issue, saying he believes Washington would never allow Canada or Mexico, who with the United States are part of the North American Free Trade Agreement, to impose their laws or dictate their policies on U.S. soil.

Right-wing UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage was even less reserved with his choice of words for the U.S. leader, saying he should “butt out.”

By Stefan Paraber for GIA

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