President Obama has delivered a final insult to the UK, writing off the ‘special relationship’ and declaring the pro-open borders German Chancellor Angela Merkel to be his “closest” international partner of the last eight years.
Speaking at the White House, he said: “In Germany, I’ll visit with Chancellor Merkel who’s probably been my closest international partner these last eight years.”
Mr. Obama’s overtures follow Chancellor Merkel using her speech following the U.S. election to launch a thinly veiled attack on President-Elect Trump, implying he holds bigoted views.
She “offer[ed] the next President of the United States close cooperation on the basis of these values”, listing respect for, “skin colour, religion, gender, sexual orientation or political views”.
Mr. Obama is set to arrive in Germany on Wednesday to meet the German chancellor, before touring Europe in his final international trip as president.
He failed to mention, however, in his White House address that he would also be meeting with Prime Minister Theresa May and French President François Hollande.
Mr. Obama infamously threatened to put Britain at “the back of the queue” for trade deals if it voted to leave the European Union (EU). He stood by the remarks at the G20 summit in September, claiming Britain was wrong to vote to leave and take back control of its borders.
In contrast, in April, he praised Chancellor Merkel as being “on the right side of history” for her “humanitarian concern” in “respect to her position on refugees here in Europe” after Germany opened its borders to more than a million Middle Eastern and North African migrants last year.
Similarly, Mr. Trump’s Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, has praised the German chancellor as “one of my favorites”, specifically referencing her record on the migrant crisis.
Mr. Obama was much warmer over Mrs. May’s more liberal predecessor, David Cameron, who was described by the National Security Council as being “as close a partner as the president has had”.
Mr. Trump’s attitude to the UK, particularly since it took a more right-wing direction after the Brexit vote, is markedly different.
UKIP’s interim leader Nigel Farage described Mr. Trump’s support for the relationship between the U.S. and the UK as “very strong” after he became the first foreign politician to meet with the president-elect over the weekend.
He also slammed Mr. Obama, claiming that he “can’t stand our country”.