Reaction to Obama’s Brexit views exposed xenophobia in the Leave camp

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Monday 25 April 2016 17:08
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President Obama at the end of his three-day visit to the UK
President Obama at the end of his three-day visit to the UK

President Obama’s intervention in the UK referendum, in favour of Remain, may have been audacious and controversial but the reaction of the Brexiteers was revealing. Their absurd response that “he wouldn’t dream of opening the US border to free movement from Mexico” exposed the latent xenophobia which drives the Leave campaign.

Immigration is Brexit’s version of Project Fear. The Vote Leave website starts by warning that over “two million EU migrants” are waiting to take Britain by storm. We pulled out of the last recession so fast because so many EU migrants were here to work. The Brexit appeal to an instinctive hostility to foreigners defines an ugly movement.

Dr John Cameron
St Andrews

President Obama and Hillary Clinton are being economical with the truth about Brexit and trade pacts. Take the EU-Canada trade pact. Why would Canada object to a carbon copy trade pact with a post-Brexit UK? The two-year transition period for leaving the EU provides plenty of time to sort out the paperwork.

Then there is the EU's yet to be concluded Transatlantic trade pact with America (TTIP). The UK has been very much involved in the negotiations. Notwithstanding Obama's “back of the queue” comment, is it in America's interest to make a meal of agreeing a more or else identical pact with the UK?

Then we are told that the EU will happily sign a trade pact with America that makes no allowance for the free movement of labour. Yet such a pact with a post-Brexit UK is out of the question, unless it incorporates a free movement accord.

Talk about cutting off one's nose to spite one's face.

Yugo Kovach
Winterborne Houghton, Dorset

I am stunned to think that the press believe that by Obama coming to Britain and telling the British people to vote to stay in, it will convince them to vote to stay in. If anything, it will do the opposite.

Obama left Britain and went on Germany, where he congratulated Chancellor Angela Merkel for taking down the European borders and allowing millions to come and live in Europe, instead of helping these poor people in their country of origin. Here is a man saying how great it is take down borders when his policy is the total opposite. In the eight years of his presidency it has become more difficult to immigrate to America and yet he is telling the British public to do the opposite. It it is an insult to British people's intelligence.

David Hennessy
Co Wicklow, Ireland

President Obama is regrettably sitting in his ivory tower, unaware of the burdens endured by ordinary British citizens. There is a severe housing shortage in the UK and soaring homelessness rates. Food banks are on the rise, and more poor families are struggling to meet their daily needs in this age of financial austerity and benefits cuts.

Patients are dying needlessly while waiting on the NHS for life-saving operations. Suicide rates and mental health issues are sky rocketing with no proper, resilient healthcare facilities and experienced staff to deal with them.

An open-door policy harms the UK's interests. The current law stipulates that a European becomes eligible for housing benefit only after a three-month residency in the UK. One could only imagine what the situation would look like with the accession of other five countries to the EU.

Dr Munjed Farid Al Qutob
London, NW2

It is abundantly clear from President Obama’s visit that he is a keen, if covert, supporter of Brexit. He deftly applied reverse psychology techniques to help bring it about. David Cameron’s grasp of the British character is so poor that he didn’t even notice.

John Riseley
Harrogate

Obama bowls a googly, and the Leave campaign call foul.

Jehangir Sarosh OBE
Bushey

Chief Brexit campaigner, Telegraph columnist and occasional panel show guest Boris Johnson complained recently that the Government’s leaflet promoting continued EU membership was a misuse and misappropriation of public funds, promoting one perspective to the exclusion of others. While this can perhaps be seen to have been acting in the public interest, it is most certainly open to debate. Meanwhile, a brief perusal of public accounts reveals another potential misuse of public money that has hitherto been strangely under-reported: since May 2008, taxpayers’ money to the tune of £47,970 per annum has been frittered away to no apparent purpose other than promotion of Boris Johnson – his ego, his vanity projects and his ambition. In these straitened times, there are causes far more deserving of public subsidy.

Julian Self
Milton Keynes

First Muslim woman to lead UK’s students welcomed by Jewish community

Why has the new National Union of Students (NUS) President been targeted by “anti-Semitism” accusations, without any evidence? As a consistent opponent of all forms of racism including anti-Semitism, Malia Bouattia opposes Israel's racist, illegal occupation of Palestine and supports effective campaigns to end it.

Her accusers have cited her negative comment about the University of Birmingham as “a Zionist outpost”, which is a political category like any other – and so irrelevant to religion or anti-Semitism. Indeed, the false equation ‘Jewish = Zionist’ comes from Israel’s supporters, not from the Palestine solidarity movement.

Malia Bouattia’s election as the first Muslim woman to head the NUS should be celebrated for bringing together resistance to class, racial, religious, gender and neocolonial oppression. Instead, she has been subjected to attacks that mirror those made against the Labour Party since Jeremy Corbyn was elected leader.

Israel is no longer believed when denying responsibility for its crimes against Palestinians, so now its supporters resort to silencing opposition to those crimes with blanket allegations of anti-Semitism. In both the NUS and Labour Party, the right wing loses its control over an organisation and then attempts to destabilise it, regardless of the damage done.

As mainly Jewish signatories, we congratulate Malia on her election.

Mike Cushman, Tony Greenstein, Deborah Fink, Les Levidow, Jenny Hardacre, Eleanor Kilroy, Richard Kuper, Leah Levane, Rachel Lever, Helen Marks, Jonathan Rosenhead, Ian Saville, Amanda Sebestyen, Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi

A mile a day keeps the doctor away

In order to get more people involved in sport we need more sport in schools on a daily basis, as now the legal “requirement” for all schools is just one session a week. This could be something as simple as a daily mile round the playing fields.

Rosanne Bostock
Oxford

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