Barack Obama has given his perennial reminder that Britain should stay in the European Union. In an interview with the BBC, the President of the United States has said it is important for both Britain’s prosperity and influence around the world to remain ‘In’:
‘Having the United Kingdom in the European Union gives us much greater confidence about the strength of the transatlantic union and is part of the cornerstone of institution built after World War II that has made the world safer and more prosperous.
‘And we want to make sure that United Kingdom continues to have that influence. Because we believe that the values that we share are the right ones, not just for ourselves, but for Europe as a whole and the world as a whole.’
Obama has a track record of warning Britain not to leave the EU: in 2013, the President was reported to have told Cameron that he ‘values a strong UK in a strong European Union.’ In 2012, the Obama administration said Britain would be weaker if she left the EU, noting ‘it is important to state very clearly that a strong UK in a strong Europe is in America’s national interest’.
But this time, there is a friendlier note to his comments. Previously, the Obama administration appeared genuinely concerned about a Brexit, which might put the ‘special relationship’ at risk and make America’s relations with Europe less straightforward. But in 2015, Barack is out to praise to his friend ‘David’ — someone he described as ‘outstanding partner of ours’.
In particular, Britain’s committing to the spending 2 per cent of GDP on defence has smoothed UK-US relations. Obama denied there had been any ‘pressure’ put on the UK to maintain its Nato commitment, but said ‘I think I had an honest conversation with David that Great Britain has always been our best partner’. And again, some more nice words about the Prime Minister:
‘I think David understands that part of the greatness of Great Britain, of the United Kingdom is that it is willing, as we are, to project power beyond our immediate self-interests to make this a more orderly, safer world.’
Critics will say that he is merely looking after America’s interests in the world, but by choosing to make the case for Britain staying in the EU after the general election and at a time the ‘In’ needs a boost, it shows the ‘special relationship’ is fine fettle. Well, the personal relationship between Barack and David at any rate.