Sorry Obama, your arrogance won't make me change my mind about Brexit

British interests are secondary to the visiting President. What matters to him is tailoring our situation to interests of his own citizens

Matt Ayton
Sunday 24 April 2016 18:17 BST
President Obama's comments in London this week were strongly pro-Europe
President Obama's comments in London this week were strongly pro-Europe (GETTY)

This weekend, President Obama spent time in the UK trying to convince the sceptics that the UK should remain in the European Union. Intercepting the British tabloids, the President extended a benevolent hand (or a demagogic one, depending on how you slice it) to tell us, “as your friend…. that the EU makes Britain even greater.”

The transatlantic “special relationship” lives on in the memory of British and American soldiers who fought shoulder-to-shoulder, to vanquish the world of fascist dictatorship, Obama told us. But it seems I’m not the only one who felt that Obama was sticking his nose in where it certainly does not belong.

It is because we don’t like interference in internal affairs by a foreign statesman or government that those on the side of Leave want out of this democracy-circumventing, Orwellian conglomerate in the first place.

Obama, of course, has a right to express his view on the issue – but why couldn’t he do that at home?

The President’s specious appeals to friendship are spurious at best; Obama has made far less effort with the UK than his two predecessors, George w. Bush and Bill Clinton. The 44th leader of the free world has made five visits to the UK during his tenure – the same number of trips as he’s made to Mexico, and two of them were to attend international summits, not to focus on bilateral relations between our countries.

The irony of being lectured on such matters by Obama is that it is widely accepted by policy analysts that foreign policy has proved the most feeble area of his presidency. A policy of ambivalence punctuated by inaction, which has almost certainly emboldened America’s proclaimed enemies in the world? That’s called ‘leading from behind’.

In Jeffrey Goldberg’s brilliant essay on Obama’s foreign policy, the President talks unashamedly about how he’d over-ruled his own generals on Iraq, says that Angela Merkel is “one of the few foreign leaders” that he respects, and criticises David Cameron and Nicolas Sarkozy for their intervention in Libya, despite playing a major role in backing the wholesale NATO bombing of the nation.

Despite this, Cameron still happily invited Obama to hector us about foreign affairs. The only thing that seems to exceed Obama’s self-reverence is the Prime Minister’s supinity. Obama wants to seduce us with a narrative of our shared courtship with warfare and fraternity in the war on terror, and Cameron seems willing to let him get away with it.

In another fit of hypocrisy, Obama spoke highly of the international institutions both of our countries play a role in maintaining, such as the UN. Yet, as Boris Johnson rightly pointed out, the US is the only country in the world that has failed to sign up to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child or the International Convention on the Law of the Sea, and almost refuses to grant legitimacy to the International Court of Justice.

The egregious double-standards are boundless. The United States rabidly ‘defends’ its lot by rounding up refugees for deportation and refuses to release information on the shady grounds of ‘national security', despite much of it being of genuine public concern. Yet, here in the UK, Obama expects us to capitulate to a highly centralised bureaucracy in Brussels and surrender our law making powers and intelligence. After all, around 60 per cent of laws that pass through Westminster are made in the EU.

But what does Obama care about that? British interests are secondary to him; what matters is tailoring our situation to the best interests of his own country.

We’re being told to prostrate ourselves to an undemocratic and invasive institution by a country that’s never done telling us it is the exponent par excellence of world democracy.

To call for an exit from the EU is not an appeal to provincial and chauvinist mentalities, it is a call for democracy to be brought home again. No amount of hypocritical demagoguery from a US President will change that.

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