The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, has launched a caustic attack on President Barack Obama, accusing him of “exorbitant hypocrisy” for urging the British people to vote to remain within the European Union (EU).
President Obama is thought to be visiting the UK in April ahead of a trip to Germany, and is expected to use the event to make the case for a ‘remain’ vote.
Writing in today’s Telegraph, Mr Johnson, a prominent ‘Leave’ campaigner, called the very notion that an American President should be urging Britain to cede sovereignty to another body “a piece of outrageous and exorbitant hypocrisy.” He added:
“There is no country in the world that defends its own sovereignty with such hysterical vigilance as the United States of America. This is a nation born from its glorious refusal to accept overseas control.
“Alone of Western nations, the US declines to accept that its citizens can be subject to the rulings of the International Criminal Court in The Hague. They have not even signed up to the Convention on the Law of the Sea. Can you imagine the Americans submitting their democracy to the kind of regime that we have in the EU?”
“[W]hy is it essential for Britain to comply with a system that the Americans would themselves reject out of hand? Is it not a blatant case of “Do as I say, but not as I do”?”
He also dismissed the idea that the EU is evolving to be a United States of Europe along the American model; a suggestion that is often put forward by supporters of a federalised Europe.
“That is indeed what the eurozone countries are trying to build; but it is not right for many EU countries, and it certainly isn’t right for Britain,” he said.
“There is a profound difference between the US and the EU, and one that will never disappear. The US has a single culture, a single language, a single and powerful global brand, and a single government that commands national allegiance. It has a national history, a national myth, a demos that is the foundation of their democracy. The EU has nothing of the kind.”
He concludes: “In urging us to embed ourselves more deeply in the EU’s federalising structures, the Americans are urging us down a course they would never dream of going themselves. That is because they are a nation conceived in liberty. They sometimes seem to forget that we are quite fond of liberty, too.”
President Obama has long made it clear that he favours Britain remaining within the EU, even going to far as to suggest that the ‘special relationship’ between America and Britain might be at risk if the people of Britain opted to leave.
As recently as February, during a telephone conversation with Prime Minister David Cameron, President Obama “reaffirmed continued US support for a strong United Kingdom in a strong European Union.”
Meanwhile a spokesman for the Prime Minister’s Office at Downing Street has refused to comment on reports of President Obama’s planned intervention, calling them mere “speculation”. However, according to the International Business Times, a Number 10 source said: “You wouldn’t look stupid saying that [the President is going to tell British voters to stay in the EU]. It would be pretty shocking if he didn’t ask voters to stay in the EU.”
Although the British government favours a remain vote; President Obama’s interventions haven’t been received so kindly by the British people themselves. An online petition calling for Obama to be prevented “from speaking In Westminster regarding the in/out referendum” has already gained more than 20,000 signatures.
“People in this country have had enough of American presidents dictating our foreign policy to us,” said the Leave.eu campaign’s spokesman Jack Montgomery.
Responding to the petition, a government spokesman said: “It is an established convention that members of either House can invite whoever they wish and in whatever capacity, to Parliament, to discuss and speak on a wide range of issues.”
Picking up on the mood of the public, Texas Senator and Republican Party Presidential hopeful Senator Ted Cruz yesterday warned “if anything his campaigning against [Brexit] will make it more likely that England will pull out of the EU.”
His comments addressed those of Republican Senator and Committee Chairman, Senator Bob Corker, who earlier this year asked: “How do you think the people of the UK will respond to us at the highest level embracing this?”