‘Key ally’ Barack Obama’s clout in EU referendum debate ‘cannot be dismissed’, says Man Uni expert

Barack Obama’s robust support of Britain’s continued EU membership is a major coup Brexit campaigners cannot dismiss, according to a Manchester expert.

The US President urged the UK to stick with the EU on Friday as he and his wife Michelle arrived on their three-day visit.

In a Daily Telegraph article, the US President insisted its existence in the European Union magnifies Britain’s influence across the world and increases its effectiveness at fighting terror.

Obama said that ‘now is a time for friends and allies to stick together’, before Vote Leave’s Boris Johnson responded, calling his view ‘hypocritical’ and ‘inconsistent’.

And Dr Gabriel Siles-Brügge, Lecturer in Politics at the University of Manchester, believes Obama’s comments – which he terms ‘generally right’ – have clout.

“It’s very hard for the Leave camp to simply dismiss this,” he told MM.

“President’s Obama’s statements and article in the Telegraph will be important for undecided voters.

“It’s a strongly worded message coming from a key ally emphasising the security benefits of membership.

“Britain gains from EU membership in this area in a number of ways, including through the European Arrest Warrant, participation in Europol and access to the Schengen Information System.

“Leaving the EU would mean having to negotiate new arrangements between Britain and other EU countries, throwing up uncertainty in the area of law enforcement.”

Obama’s statement was delivered ‘as a friend’ – in his words – as he referred to the ‘intertwined’ nature of British and American prosperity and security.

The president did not comment regarding what an exit from the EU could mean for that relationship, but Dr Gabriel Siles-Brügge suggested it could cause strains.

He said: “An exit from the EU is likely to make Britain a less attractive economic, security and foreign policy partner for the US

“Of course it doesn’t mean that the EU and US will stop cooperating on these matters, but given that US policy makers often see Britain as a bridge between themselves and other European partners, a Brexit may well eat away at the foundations of that bridge.”

Image courtesy of Center for American Progress Action Fund, via Wikipedia, with thanks

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