The jet fumes from Air Force One are still lingering in the air, and already Brexiteers are doing their damnedest to belittle the US President and everything he stands for. Boris Johnson reckons we should ignore Obama’s thoughts on Europe because he’s “part-Kenyan”, Dominic Raab is screaming from the rooftops the guy is a “lame duck” loser and Liam Fox says Obama’s opinions are totally “irrelevant”.
Whether it’s his African heritage or American accent Brexiteers hate, they all seem to agree on one thing: when it comes to Britain and its role in the EU, Obama should just mind his own business.
This may hurt to hear, but that’s exactly what he’s doing – and it’s about damn time he spoke up.
For decades, Eurosceptics have pinned their entire economic case upon Westminster’s alleged untapped trade potential with countries like the US. They’ve argued Brussels is totally holding the UK back, and that we could make Britain’s “Special Relationship” with America a whole lot more special by simply ditching Europe and getting into bed headfirst with our fellow Anglophiles.
Surely every self-respecting British voter would want that – and using the powers of telekinesis, the Vote Leave campaign inherently knew every American voter agreed with that plan, too.
Well, apparently Barack Obama doesn’t believe in telekinesis. He’d much rather you hear the thoughts of American voters straight from the horse’s mouth. And believe it or not, those opinions actually hit pretty close to home.
You see, Brexiteers love to rage on about how this EU referendum is a democratic question that must be answered by the British people. OK, fine. But at the end of the day, not everyone living in Britain gets to have their say.
Case in point: there are almost 200,000 Americans like me living in the UK. That’s 50,000 more people than the Conservative Party has got signed up, about five times higher than Ukip's fan base and roughly the same size as the population of Aberdeen. Yet because those UK residents were born a few thousand miles away from London, apparently nobody cares what they think.
It doesn’t matter that they’re paying British taxes. It doesn’t matter that their kids are British. Hell, it doesn’t even matter if they plan to live here forever. They’re simply expected to smile, nod and agree with every half-baked, anti-European daydream that pops into Chris Grayling’s head because they aren’t allowed a vote. How’s that for democracy?
Like it or not, Barack Obama has every right to voice his concerns about this referendum. Never mind half a trillion dollars in American investments. Never mind being the backbone of the Leave Campaign’s so-called economic plan. Never mind the long-term global ramifications of a Brexit. The White House is speaking for the interests of literally tens of thousands of British residents who are being completely and utterly excluded from a meaningful debate about the future of their homes.
This referendum might centre on the UK, but its tremors will be felt well beyond the borders of Little Britain. As a result, everyone able to vote on June 23rd owes it to their foreign friends and neighbours to pause for a moment and contemplate exactly what it is Barack Obama is saying about this election.
It doesn’t matter if you agree with him, and it doesn’t matter if you care – it just matters that you listen.
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