Why Obama thinks the UK should remain part of the European Union

“As a friend…”
“As a friend…”
Image: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque
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Britain is now just two months away from a referendum that will decide its fate in the European Union.

For the better of the last year—and, really, for decades beforehand—Britain has been gripped by two campaigns eager to see Britain either leave or remain within the EU. There have also been voices chipping in from outside the UK; the French economy minister has warned that Brexit would be a disaster and the German finance minister insists that the EU could survive without Britain.

Now, another interested party has weighed in on the matter.

In an editorial written in The Daily Telegraph, US president Barack Obama has called for British people to vote to stay in the EU. “I will say, with the candour of a friend, that the outcome of your decision is a matter of deep interest to the United States,” he said. He argued:

  • The EU was among a number of international institutions, including the United Nations and NATO, that was formed the last century to provide a foundation “for democracy, open markets, and the rule of law.” Faced with the threats of terrorism and global economic certainty, European nations need these foundations now more than ever.
  • Echoing some of the criticism of Europe’s failure to work together to tackle terrorism, Obama emphasizes the importance of intelligence sharing to strengthen counter-terrorism across the continent.
  • The EU has helped promote British values and practices across Europe and its periphery. Staying within the EU magnifies, not decreases, Britain’s voice.
  • The best way to meet the challenges posed by the refugee crisis, terrorism, and climate change is through collective action. Obama points to the Iran nuclear deal, the climate-change agreement in Paris, and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership as examples of great achievements that was made possible by collective action.

Unsurprisingly, not everyone has warmly embraced Obama’s argument.