Obama issues trade deal warning on Brexit
Apr 26, 2016 04:46 AM EDT
US President Barack Obama warned British voters Friday that it would take up to a decade for Britain to strike a trade deal with the US if it leaves the European Union.
Obama was at the end of a three-day visit during which he celebrated the Queen's 90th birthday with a lunch at Windsor Castle. That was when he said it was wrong for Brexit campaigners to suggest that it would be straightforward for US to agree to a trade relationship with Britain if it exits the EU, The Guardian reported.
"It could be five years from now, 10 years from now before we're actually able to get something done," he told the BBC. He explained that the first priority for the US would be to complete ongoing talks on a trade deal with the EU.
He defended his right to express his opinion by saying he does expect those who are leading the campaign one way or the other to change their minds but he presumes ordinary voters would like to hear what the president of the United States, who loves the British people and cares deeply about this relationship, has to say.
The US president's comments on Britain's June 23 referendum at a press conference with UK Prime Minister David Cameron drew heated reaction from those campaigning to leave the 28-nation bloc, said the Tribune. Obama claimed London would be "at the back of the queue" for a post Brexit trade deal.
Obama's high-profile warning came on the heels of other recent major interventions highlighting the negative economic impact of an exit. With polls showing largely deadlocked public opinion, voter preference may be starting to shift in favor of the "In" campaign strongly espoused by the British prime minister.
After his statement, Obama's image was quickly added to pro-EU campaign posts online under the headline "Obama thinks the UK is Stronger In Europe," reported The Telegraph India.
Boris Johnson, London mayor and de facto leader of the "Out" campaign furiously criticised Obama's trade warning. "It is ridiculous to warn that the UK will be at the back of the queue for a free trade deal," he told the Mail on Sunday newspaper. "The UK has never been able to do a free trade deal with the US in the last 43 years - because we are in the EU!"
He further said it is hypocritical for Obama to intervene in British affairs as the United States would not accept limits to its own sovereignty as EU nations do.