Barack Obama: Britain must vote to remain in the European Union
Published 22/04/2016 | 07:57
Barack Obama has urged Britain to stay in the European Union, saying that the sacrifice of his country’s soldiers during the Second World War means America has a stake in the referendum debate.
Writing exclusively in The Telegraph, the American President invokes the spectre of the war and tells British voters that their choice in the referendum “will echo in the prospects of today’s generation of Americans as well”.
He also uses the article to warn that a vote to leave the EU will leave Britain less able to tackle terrorism, the migration crisis and any economic shocks in the global economy.
Allies of the Prime Minister believe that President Obama’s appeal to voters to back the EU will electrify the referendum campaign and convince undecided voters to back Mr Cameron’s bid to ensure Britain remains a member of the bloc.
However, intervention will infuriate Eurosceptic Cabinet ministers, who have said it is “inappropriate” for him to comment on a British referendum.
The President uses his article to tackle their criticism head-on, suggesting that he has a right to comment because Britain and America’s “special relationship was forged as we spilled blood together on the battlefield”.
“I will say, with the candour of a friend, that the outcome of your decision is a matter of deep interest to the United States,” President Obama says.
“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.”
President Obama makes clear that he believes that the Unites States, the United Kingdom and the EU “have turned centuries of war in Europe into decades of peace, and worked as one to make this world a safer, better place”.
“What a remarkable legacy that is,” he writes. “And what a remarkable legacy we will leave when, together, we meet the challenges of this young century as well.”
The President makes an emotional appeal for Britain to vote to remain a part of the EU, which he says is an institution created “from the ashes of war”.
He makes clear that Britain – and America’s – ability to tackle the threat of Islamist terrorists is better served if the UK is still in the EU after the June 23 referendum.
“Our special relationship was forged as we spilled blood together on the battlefield,” he writes. “It was fortified as we built and sustained the architecture for advancing stability and prosperity in Europe, and our democratic values around the globe.
“From the ashes of war, those who came before us had the foresight to create the international institutions and initiatives to sustain a prosperous peace: the United Nations and NATO; Bretton Woods, the Marshall Plan, and the European Union. Their efforts provided a foundation for democracy, open markets, and the rule of law, while underwriting more than seven decades of relative peace and prosperity in Europe.
“Today, we face tests to this order – terrorism and aggression; migration and economic headwinds – challenges that can only be met if the United States and the United Kingdom can rely on one another, on our special relationship, and on the partnerships that lead to progress.”
President Obama uses his article to say that Britain’s membership of the EU “magnifies” its influence abroad.
“As citizens of the United Kingdom take stock of their relationship with the EU, you 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 writes.
“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 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.”
The President and Mr Cameron will today hold a joint press conference in Downing Street, where President Obama will again call on the UK to remain in the EU.
Iain Duncan Smith, the Eurosceptic who resigned as a Cabinet minister last month, said: “President Obama, and every one of his predecessors, have ferociously protected the sovereignty of the USA - and I only wish we could say the same of our leaders.
“What I do find strange is that he is asking the British people to accept a situation that he patently would not recommend to the American population.”
He added: “If he believes it would be unacceptable for the American people - those he is actually elected to guide - I fail to see how it is appropriate for him to recommend that the British people continue to relinquish their right to democratic self-governance.”
Mr Cameron on Thursday warned that the referendum is a “choice for life” and said a vote to leave would be a “self-inflicted wound on our economy”.
He also accused ministers backing the Brexit campaign, including Michael Gove, the Justice Secretary, of “insulting” the British people and “scaremongering” about what staying in the bloc means for the country.
The Prime Minister also warned that British products including cider, cheese and whiskey could be threatened if we leave the EU because they would no longer enjoy protected geographical status, meaning copycat producers could sell products with the same name of an inferior quality.
It came as the UK's statistics watchdog warned that one of the key claims made by the Brexit camp over the financial cost of EU membership is "potentially misleading".
Vote Leave's claim that £350 million a week is sent to Brussels does not take into account the UK's rebate or the money that comes back from the EU, Sir Andrew Dilnot said as he criticised the "lack of clarity" in the way the statistics have been used.