Conservative MPs accused Barack Obama of interfering in British politics after the US President said the UK must remain in the EU to enjoy influence on the world stage.
Mr Obama told the BBC that Britain’s EU membership "gives us much greater confidence about the strength of the transatlantic union". He said the EU "made the world safer and more prosperous".
But John Redwood, a former Cabinet minister and a Eurosceptic, said: “President Obama is wrong about the UK and the EU. If letting foreign countries impose laws on you, levy taxes on you, and spend your money is such a good idea, why doesn’t he create an American Union so Mexico can have common borders with the US, Cuba can spend US tax on herself, and Brazil can impose laws on the US the US does not want?
“If he did that to the US and it worked, then he would be in a stronger moral position to lecture us on having common borders with Eastern Europe, having Greece spending our money and having laws the Germans want but we don’t.”
Owen Paterson, another former Cabinet minister, said: "It is massively in America's interest that a strong UK, using all its contacts in the anglosphere, with Canada, New Zealand and Asia regalvanises the movement for world free trade that would be massively positive for thousands of people."
Tom Pursglove, a Tory backbencher, said the issue of EU membership was "a matter for the British people", adding: “It isn't for anybody else to tell the British people what they are going to do.” Daniel Hannan, a Conservative MEP, said: "I accept that there may be some arguments for staying in the EU. Humouring Barack Obama is not one of them."
Paul Nuttall, Ukip’s deputy leader, described Mr Obama as the "most anti-British [US] president in a generation".
A Downing Street source said: "It's right for Britain to have this renegotiation and this referendum to address the concerns that the British people have about Europe and to make sure the British people have the final say about whether we stay in a reformed EU or leave."
Tory MPs who want to leave the EU
Tory MPs who want to leave the EU
1/4 Mark Reckless
MP for Rochester and Strood. Will tell his constituents he will vote “out” in 2017 no matter what concessions David Cameron wins from EU. Has called for “level playing field” referendum with no recommendation from Mr Cameron on how people should vote
2/4 David Nuttall
MP for Bury North. Has said: “I am fed up with this country being told what to do by other countries in the EU, which is why I believe we should leave the EU and instead have free trade agreements with EU countries.”
3/4 Heather Wheeler
MP for Derbyshire South. She has said: “I have decided enough is enough and that Britain really is better off out. We should be part of a free trade association, not a political union.”
4/4 Gordon Henderson
MP for Sittingbourne and Sheppey. He has said: “My reason for wanting to leave the EU is simple. Britain needs to retain control of its own destiny if it is to remain a sovereign nation.”
But Hilary Benn, the shadow Foreign Secretary, welcomed the President’s intervention. He said: “Labour is fighting to protect Britain's interests by campaigning to remain in Europe while David Cameron's weakness and indecision are putting our country's future international influence and prosperity at risk.”Reuse content