LONDON (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama made an extraordinary intervention into the politics of Washington’s closest ally on Friday, warning Britons they would go to “the back of the queue” for a trade deal if they left the European Union.
Following is some British reaction to Obama’s comments:
“I’ve always found Barack someone who gives sage advice. He’s a man with a very good heart. He’s a very good friend and always will be a good friend, I know, to the United Kingdom.
“Britain’s membership of the EU gives us a powerful tool to deliver on the prosperity and security that our people need, and to stand up for the values that our countries share.
“And now I think is a time to stay true to those values, and to stick together with our friends and allies in Europe and around the world.”
BORIS JOHNSON, MAYOR OF LONDON AND “OUT” CAMPAIGNER
“We don’t have a trade deal with the U.S. at the moment and we have been in the EU for 43 years and indeed we have had a great deal of difficulty in exporting some UK products such as beef to the U.S. Don’t forget of the non-EU trade that we do, 73 percent of it doesn’t involve any kind of trade deal at all.
“We would do very well trading globally as we always used to do. The WTO is now helping to bring down tariffs worldwide.
“We have got a fantastic opportunity to take back control of very considerable sums of money - 350 million pounds per week - and our borders and to stop the erosion of our democracy.”
NIGEL FARAGE, UK INDEPENDENCE PARTY LEADER AND “OUT” CAMPAIGNER
“President Obama won’t be in office by the time we’re out of the EU post-referendum. Trade deal of course in both countries interests.
“President Obama does not seem to understand that the EU is a political union, completely different to NATO or the G7.
“How is the UK leading the EU? President Obama must never have heard of Mrs. Merkel.”
JUSTICE MINISTER DOMINIC RAAB, A MEMBER OF VOTE LEAVE, THE MAIN OUT CAMPAIGN
“The President made clear that uncontrolled immigration into the EU is a threat to national security. I agree - that is why it is safer to take back control so that we can stop terror suspects from Europe coming into the UK.
“He argued that he thinks it is in America’s interests for the UK to stay in the EU but what is good for US politicians is not necessarily good for the British people. We want more international cooperation after we vote “leave”, but the EU is not fit for purpose, and cannot cope with the multiple crises we face like terrorism, Syria and mass migration.
“The U.S. would not dream of opening its border with Mexico, so it is hypocritical for President Obama to insist that we do the same with Europe.”
LEAVE.EU CO-FOUNDER RICHARD TICE
“We don’t have a trade deal with the United States now because we’re members of the European Union. The proposed EU-U.S. trade deal, TTIP, would be disastrous for British workers.
“Obama doesn’t have the authority to deny us a deal, as he will be long gone before any such proposals are on the table.”
ANAND MENON, PROFESSOR OF EUROPEAN POLITICS AND FOREIGN AFFAIRS AT KING’S COLLEGE LONDON
“President Obama has made a startling intervention. It is above and beyond what people do in Western democracies. And if you think as I do that it is a fear thing, then it works.
“If I was leaver, a Brexiteer, I would say he was a lame duck president and it is not up to him anyway because he will be out of power soon.
“It is the biggest intervention I can think of by an American president who has turned up in this way and intervened directly in the politics of a Western democracy since the end of the Cold War.”
“Pro-EU Prime Minister Cameron couldn’t have asked for more.
“Because Obama is popular in the UK, and possibly more so than in the U.S., his friendly advice could bolster the Remain camp. Under the leadership of populist-left-winger Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour Party, against its tradition, has not yet voiced a strong argument for keeping the UK in the EU.
“There will be some undecided voters on the centre-left who are reluctant to support the views of centre-right Cameron. Cameron probably knows this. The introduction of centre-left Obama into the vacuum created by Corbyn could therefore bolster support for the ‘Remain’ camp.”
“So far, the foreign interventions have been copious and homogenous meaning it’s hard for voters to discern those that might matter from those that don’t. Whether President Obama can buck this trend remains to be seen, but with nine weeks to go, it could be too much too soon.”
GIDEON SKINNER, HEAD OF POLITICAL RESEARCH AT POLLING COMPANY IPSOS MORI UK
“There has been a lot of interest in President Obama’s visit to the UK and his intervention in the referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU.
“We know the British public are split right down the middle on whether Mr Obama should intervene, according to whether they agree with his views or not, but overall it seems as if most Britons feel Brexit would make little difference to any special relationship there is with the United States (although those wanting to remain in the EU are more worried).
“Matters closer to home such as the British economy and immigration are likely to play bigger roles in how voters are going to make up their minds.”
Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge, editing by David Milliken