When Barack Obama warned Brits on a visit to the UK ahead of the EU referendum that a vote for Leave would see Britain put to the ‘back of the queue’, on trade deals there was much anger – and also bemusement. As Brexiteers were quick to point out, Americans rarely use the word ‘queue’ – leading some to ask: did No 10 ask the US president to intervene?
At the time, Cameron’s allies strongly denied this suggestion. However, it seems that the truth is quite different. Speaking on the Today programme, former White House staffer Ben Rhodes claimed that Cameron’s aides did ask their side for Obama to say Brexit would put the UK ‘at the back of the queue’.
‘Yeah well we had come here to try to help the Remain campaign and we had a meeting with Cameron and his team and we were all in violent agreement about the negative consequences of Brexit.
And talking about the conference they were going to hold together, we were discussing the arguments for the Brexit campaign. And some of the arguments were this idea that the United States could just negotiate a new deal with the UK quickly and we all agreed that’s unlikely to happen.
And as Obama was saying that someone on the British side said ‘we’d end up being at the back of the queue’ and Obama said that is completely right and then he was asked [by David Cameron] it would be good if you could repeat that point in the press conference.’
Following Danny Dyer’s outburst last week, it’s not proving to be a great fortnight for the former prime minister…