bRITAIN SHOULD not assume it could trade easily with the United States if it leaves the EU, President Obama has warned, as he tells voters the country would be sent to the “back of the queue”.
In a direct intervention on the upcoming EU referendum, the President said piecemeal deals with Britain would not be an efficient way of doing business and poured scorn on the Leave campaign’s assumption that the US would continue to be a willing trading partner.
Speaking during a joint Press conference with David Cameron, President Obama said: “I think it’s fair to say that maybe some point down the line there might be a UK-US trade agreement but it’s not going to happen any time soon, because our focus is in negotiating with a big bloc of the EUropean Union to get a trade agreement done.
“And the UK is going to be in the back of the queue.”
Both heads of state used the occasion to discuss at length the UK and US’s much lauded “special relationship” and cemented their partnership once again before global media when fielding questions from the Press on Syria and Libya.
Friendship has also blossomed between the pair during their terms of office, which have run almost concurrently with Mr Obama describing Mr Cameron as one of his most trusted partners.
This close relationship and the impact of Britain leaving the EU would have onUS prosperity, gave the President the temerity to weigh in on the debate, he said.
“As part of our special relationship, part of being friends, is to be honest and to let you know what I think,” he said.
“And speaking honestly, the outcome of that decision is a matter of deep interest to the United States because it affects our prospects as well. The United States wants a strong United Kingdom as its partner.
“The United Kingdom is at its best when it is helping to lead a strong Europe. It leverages UK power to be part of the European Union.”
Earlier in the day his intervention was criticised by London Mayor Boris Johnson and Ukip leader Nigel Farage who mused that his Kenyan heritage may blur his views on UK sovereignty.
Clearing up a tale recounted by Mr Johnson that he moved a bust of Sir Winston Churchill out of the Oval Office, he said he had a bust of Churchill in his private office and that he “loved the guy”.
His speech is expected to spark fury among those campaigning to leave the EU.
Co-founder of Vote Leave Richard Tice said that President Obama would not have the authority to “deny us a deal”, as he will be “long gone before any such proposals are on the table”.
Hackles raised: Page 5.