President Obama, in a Friday opinion piece penned for the Telegraph, told members of the reading British public who are about to decide on their future participation in the European Union – whether to stay in or opt out – that sovereignty, while a good thing, is hardly as powerful as the collective.
“In this complicated, connected world, the challenges facing the EU – migration, economic inequality, the threats of terrorism and climate change – are the same challenges facing the United States and other nations,” Obama wrote. “And in today’s world, even as we all cherish our sovereignty, the nations who wield their influence most effectively are the nations that do it through the collective action that today’s challenges demand.”
He then went on to list what he perceived to be the successes of the collective.
“When we negotiated the historic deal to verifiably prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon, it was collective action,” he wrote. “When the climate agreement in Paris needed a push, it was the European Union, fortified by the United Kingdom, that ultimately helped make that agreement possible. When it comes to creating jobs, trade, and economic growth in line with our values, the UK has benefited from its membership in the EU.”
And one more, looming: “And the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership with the EU will advance our values and our interests, and establish the high-standard, pro-worker rules for trade and commerce in the 21st century economy,” Obama wrote.
He called for “friends and allies to stick together,” and bring about a “remarkable legacy” of collectively meeting “the challenges of this young century,” he wrote.
Politicos in Britain, however, aren’t happy about Obama’s press into their government business.
“A monstrous interference,” said U.K. Independence Party leader Nigel Farage, telling Fox News Obama ought to keep his political leanings out of Britain. “I’d rather he stayed in Washington, frankly. … You wouldn’t expect the British prime minister to intervene in your presidential election. You wouldn’t expect the prime minister to endorse one candidate or another. Perhaps he’s another one of those people who doesn’t understand what the [EU] is.”
More than 100 MPs signed on to a letter Farage penned to the U.S. ambassador to the United Kingdom requesting Obama quit intervening, and calling any such intervention “extremely controversial and potentially damaging,” Fox News reported.
The letter read, in part: “It has long been the established practice not to interfere in the domestic political affairs of our allies and we hope that this will continue to be the case. While the current U.S. administration may have a view on the desirability or otherwise of Britain’s continued membership of the E.U., any explicit intervention in the debate is likely to be extremely controversial and potentially damaging.”
And London Mayor Boris Johnson accused Obama of hypocrisy.
“I just think it’s paradoxical that the United States, which wouldn’t dream of allowing the slightest infringement of its own sovereignty, should be lecturing other countries about the need to enmesh themselves ever deeper in a federal superstate,” he said earlier in the week.
Meanwhile, Johnson on Thursday blasted Obama in an opinion piece for the Sun as likely intervening in Britain’s affairs due to his historical “dislike” of the country, as seen when he first took office in his first term.
Johnson referred to the removal of a bust of Winston Churchill from a certain White House spot where it had stood for years and said such action spoke volumes.
“Some said it was a snub to Britain,” Johnson wrote. “Some said it was a symbol of the part-Kenyan president’s ancestral dislike of the British empire – of which Churchill had been such a fervent defender. Some said that perhaps Churchill was seen as less important than he once was. Perhaps his ideas were old-fashioned and out of date. Well, if that’s why Churchill was banished from the Oval Office, they could not have been more wrong.”
Johnson then doubled down on his view of Obama as hypocritical on his entrance into British politics to influence a vote to stay in the European Union.
“It is deeply anti-democratic – and much as I admire the United States, and much as I respect the president, I believe he must admit that his country would not dream of embroiling itself in anything of the kind,” Johnson wrote. “The U.S. guards its democracy with more hysterical jealousy than any other country on Earth.”