Monday 24 October 2016

Brexit: real friends will tell you the hard truths

Published 23/04/2016 | 02:30

Barack Obama. Photo: AP
Barack Obama. Photo: AP

They say if you try to be a friend to all, you'll finish being a friend to none. But speaking the truth can be a thankless task, as US President Barack Obama discovered on his trip to London yesterday.

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He may have walked somewhat roughly over diplomatic convention by speaking plainly on the dangers of a Brexit, but warning an ally about danger should not be regarded as an undue interference.

He was simply stating the unvarnished truth when he said that Britain would not be able to strike a free trade deal with the US "any time soon" and would go to the "back of the queue" if it leaves the EU.

There is no room for sentiment in cut-throat global commerce, and Washington's eye would be firmly fixed on reaching agreement with the European Union, which would be at the expense of the UK. It is because of the "special relationship" that he was compelled to speak, and he was quite correct to do so. There are American livelihoods as well as British ones in play, and the stakes are getting higher.

The proponents of Brexit can scarcely complain about being familiarised with some of the facts of economic life, even if they do give the lie to some comfortable delusions.

Irish Independent

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