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London mayor slams Obama's support of UK in EU

March 14, 2016

The Mayor of London has attacked US President Barack Obama for his support of the UK staying in the EU. In a newspaper column, Johnson dismissed Obama's intervention as a "piece of outrageous and exorbitant hypocrisy."

London Bürgermeister Boris Johnson
Image: picture-alliance/Zuma/S. Lock

The US President Barack Obama warned that Britain would lose influence if it were to leave the European Union. Mayor of London Boris Johnson reacted to the claim and said that Obama's intervention in the upcoming EU referendum was a "piece of outrageous and exorbitant hypocrisy."

Johnson, who is a prominent Brexit campaigner, criticized US President Obama's initiative, saying that his own citizens would never accept a structure like the EU.

"In urging us to embed ourselves more deeply in the EU's federalizing structures, the Americans are urging us down a course they would never dream of going themselves," Johnson wrote in the daily broadsheet, the Daily Telegraph.

"That is because they are a nation conceived in liberty. They sometimes seem to forget that we are quite fond of liberty, too."

Obama rumored to pay visit to UK

US President Barack Obama announced that he would be heading to the UK in April in a sign of support for the UK to remain in the European Union, ahead of the June 23, 2016 referendum on the issue. However, a spokesman for Prime Minister David Cameron refused to verify the report, referring to it as "speculation". Obama will, however, already be travelling to the region in late April anyway to hold talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Boris Johnson meanwhile was sure that Obama would be coming to the UK to express his support of the country staying in the EU. In his regular Daily Telegraph column, Johnson wrote: "Sometime in the next couple of months we are told that president Obama himself is going to arrive in this country, like some deus ex machina, to pronounce on the matter."

US President Barack Obama
US President Barack Obama Claims that the UK would lose its position of influence as a global player if it decided to leave the EUImage: Reuters/C. Barria

"The British people will be told to be good to themselves, to do the right thing. We will be informed by our most important ally that it is in our interests to stay in the EU, no matter how flawed we may feel that organization to be."

Washington supports the notion of Britain playing a central role in the European Union, which is the world's largest economic bloc, and has warned that the "special relationship" between the US and the UK could be at risk if the country were to leave the EU.

Polls indicate that the public opinion on the issue is split, with 51 percent of the population wanting to remain in the 28-country bloc and the rest wishing to leave. UK Prime Minister David Cameron said he favored keeping Britain in the EU, following a renegotiation of the country's relations with Brussels.

Differing views on economic consequences

Cameron also expressed concern that Britain's $2.9 trillion (2.6 trillion euros) economy would face a shock that would pile pressure onto the UK's pound sterling currency if voters opted to leave the EU. New York-born Johnson, however, said that the pound would benefit if Britain voted to leave the bloc in the referendum.

"Sterling and euro will continue to fluctuate as they always have done but sterling will reflect the long term health and strength of the UK economy and trade flows and investment flows and people's willingness to buy UK products and invest in the UK," Johnson said.

"The more we can get rid of the regulation, the red tape, the cost of the EU, the better we'll do and the more we'll thrive and the more robust our currency will be."

Boris Johnson is widely regarded as a headlining candidate to become the next Conservative Party candidate for prime minister, with a contest expected to be held before 2020.

ss/rc (AFP, Reuters)

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