As governments and markets around the world work to make sense of Britain’s vote last week to leave the European Union, President Barack Obama dismissed the global reaction to the seismic move as “hysteria”.
In an interview on NPR’s “Fresh Air”, Obama said he did not “anticipate that there is going to be major cataclysmic changes” as a consequence of the UK’s so-called Brexit vote. Europe’s core values will remain the same, the president said, as will its international priorities. And he downplayed concern that the UK’s exit from the EU was a sign of larger nationalist sentiments across the continent.
“I would not overstate it. There has been a little bit of hysteria, post Brexit vote,” Obama said. “As if somehow NATO is gone and the transatlantic alliance is dissolving and every country is rushing off to its own corner. That’s not what’s happening.”
President Obama characterised the U.K. vote as little more than its citizens pressing the “pause button” on European integration, frustrated with the bureaucracy that is unavoidable among a group of 28 member states with diverse economies and cultures. He predicted that the UK would end up with a situation similar to Norway, which is not an EU member but aligns itself on “almost every issue with Europe and us”.