EU referendum: President Barack Obama makes plea to Britain to Remain in EU as it enhances UK's influence and helps economic growth "in line with values"

 
James Nickerson
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President Obama Arrives in the UK
Obama said the special relationship was forged as "we spilt blood together on the battlefield" (Source: Getty)

The European Union magnifies British influence and global leadership, President Barack Obama has said in a passionate appeal to the British people ahead of the all-important EU referendum.

Concerned about the prospect of Brexit, the president said that when it comes to creating jobs, trade and economic growth in line "with our values, the UK has benefited from its membership in the EU".

Writing in the Telegraph, Obama made his plea amid rising tension between both the Leave and Remain camps as the referendum in June looms nearer and nearer.

Those in the Leave campaign have complained about Obama's intervention, with Mayor of London Boris Johnson writing the Sun today that "for the United States to tell us in the UK that we must surrender control of so much of our democracy – it is a breathtaking example of the principle of do-as-I-say-but-not-as-I-do. It is incoherent. It is inconsistent, and yes it is downright hypocritical".

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But Obama, who chose to write in a paper with traditionally more eurosceptic readers, made clear that "ultimately, the question of whether or not the UK remains a part of the EU is a matter for British voters to decide for yourselves".

That said, he added that as a friend, who "spilt blood together on the battlefield", the outcome of the referendum was of deep interest to the US.

"The United States sees how your powerful voice in Europe ensures that Europe takes a strong stance in the world, and keeps the EU open, outward looking, and closely linked to its allies on the other side of the Atlantic. So the US and the world need your outsized influence to continue – including within Europe," Obama wrote, as he invoked the joint history of the UK and US.

"In this complicated, connected world, the challenges facing the EU – migration, economic inequality, the threats of terrorism and climate change – are the same challenges facing the United States and other nations

"In this complicated, connected world, the challenges facing the EU – migration, economic inequality, the threats of terrorism and climate change – are the same challenges facing the United States and other nations."

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The president listed the Iran nuclear deal, climate agreement in Paris, intelligence sharing to fight terrorism and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) as accomplishments helped by the UK's membership of the EU.

"This kind of cooperation – from intelligence sharing and counterterrorism to forging agreements to create jobs and economic growth – will be far more effective if it extends across Europe. Now is a time for friends and allies to stick together," Obama wrote.

Oh, and of course, the president did want to "wish Her Majesty a happy birthday in person".

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