U.S. President Barack Obama has attracted the ire of UKIP leader Nigel Farage after advising Britain not to leave the European Union.
Obama – whose interests in the UK staying in the EU are predominantly centered around the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) deal – told Prime Minister David Cameron and reporters that he “looked forward” to Britain staying in the European Union.
The sentiment attracted attention from UKIP leader Nigel Farage, who used his speech at his party’s South East conference this weekend to fire the starter pistol for the Out, or ‘No’ campaign.
Farage told Obama via Twitter, “We don’t need to take foreign policy advice from the American President. The last time we did that it was called the Iraq War.”
We don’t need to take foreign policy advice from the American President. The last time we did that it was called the Iraq War.
— Nigel Farage (@Nigel_Farage) June 7, 2015
The U.S. President has previously expressed his desire for Britain to stay in the European Union. In 2013, he told Mr Cameron that he “values a strong UK in a strong European Union”.
The White House also issued a statement that read: “The president underscored our close alliance with the United Kingdom and said that the United States values a strong UK in a strong European Union, which makes critical contributions to peace, prosperity, and security in Europe and around the world.”
But public opinion may swing against Obama and Cameron on the issue, especially given Obama’s motivations. The TTIP deal, which has been described as “secretive” and “shady” is billed as a “free trade” agreement, but has attracted over 2 million signatures in opposition to it.
UKIP is the only British political party who have overtly stated their opposition to TTIP, which they have described as a “corporate stitch-up” – allowing U.S. companies access to Britain’s National Health Service (NHS).
Anti-TTIP campaigners say they want to stop TTIP because it includes “rules on regulatory cooperation that pose a threat to democracy and the rule of law”. They also claim TTIP supports the “lowering of standards concerning employment, social, environmental, privacy and consumers and the deregulation of public services (such as water) and cultural assets from being deregulated in non-transparent negotiations.”
Obama has faced similar scrutiny in the United States for the Trans-Pacific Partnership deal, which has similar implications for the United States and its Asian trade partners.