White House hopeful Hillary Clinton has waded into the Brexit debate, throwing her weight behind President Obama’s advice that Britain should remain within the European Union (EU).
President Obama has endured criticism for telling the British people that they would be better off remaining within the Union, and threatening them with loss of American trade should they dare to vote to Leave.
But former secretary of state Hillary Clinton is not one of those critics. Rather, sources close to her campaign say she stands fully behind President Obama’s opposition to Brexit.
In a statement to the Observer, her senior policy adviser, Jake Sullivan, said: “Hillary Clinton believes that transatlantic cooperation is essential, and that cooperation is strongest when Europe is united. She has always valued a strong United Kingdom in a strong EU. And she values a strong British voice in the EU.”
Obama departs the UK for Germany today, where he will be greeted by thousands of Germans protesting against the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). In a riff on his famous campaign line, they will hold banners proclaiming: “Yes we can – Stop TTIP!”
But he leaves behind a furious backlash against the statements made during his British trip, particularly his warning that Britain would go have to the “back of the queue” if it wanted a trade deal with the US.
Conceding that there would likely be a US-UK trade agreement “down the line” he warned: “It’s not going to happen any time soon, because our focus is on negotiating with a big bloc, the EU. The UK is going to be in the back of the queue.”
UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage said the warning was indicative that the President did not know what he was talking about, and accused Number 10 Downing Street of putting words in the President’s mouth.
“He said Britain would be at the back of the queue, no American would ever say ‘back of the queue’. Americans don’t use the word ‘queue’, Americans use the word ‘line’,” Mr Farage told BBC Radio Four’s Any Questions.
“Therefore, what Obama said when he said we would be at the back of the queue, he was doing the bidding of Cameron, and Number 10, and doing his best to talk down Britain, and I think that’s shameful.”
A YouGov poll of American voters has, however, revealed that the President does not speak for the majority of his citizens on the matter. When asked whether the President’s insistence that the UK would have to wait its turn was the right position for America to take, 59 percent said it was not, and that the two nations had a special relationship which meant that Britain should never have to wait at the back of the line.
Less than a third agreed with the President that Britain would have to wait its turn, while 13 percent were unsure.
And when asked who they thought was America’s closest ally, the vast majority – 55 percent – named Britain. Canada was the runner up, gaining just 16 percent of the vote, while Israel was third on 11 percent. France was named by a paltry three percent. Among the American people, then, the special relationship between America and Britain appears to be alive and well.
In line with the majority of his fellow Americans, Republican Presidential hopeful Sen. Ted Cruz was also critical of Obama’s stance, telling Breitbart London: “President Obama’s comments today are typical of his administration, which began by returning the bust of Winston Churchill from the Oval Office.
“Rather than scolding our closest allies for even considering exercising their rights as a sovereign nation, the President of the United States should look for ways to make Brexit, if it happens, an opportunity to enhance and strengthen the special relationship between our two countries.”