Thursday, 17 March 2016

The Spectator: Barack Obama is right to offer his government’s view on the EU referendum

The Spectator: Barack Obama is right to offer his government’s view on the EU referendum

by Alex Massie

"Now they may be mistaken and the case for Remain scarcely depends on the views of outside observers but it’s absurd to say Britain’s friends elsewhere have no stake at all in this argument. Since they have that stake, it seems reasonable for them to offer their opinion. You don’t have to agree with them for that to remain the case.

And, look, many of the people clutching their pearls in horror at the thought Obama might suggest an In vote is the more prudent course are the same people who chortled, nay celebrated, his observation that the United States preferred a strong and united United Kingdom. You cannot, at least not with any consistency or honesty, salute his intervention during the Scottish independence referendum campaign and now deplore his intervention in the EU referendum campaign. If one intervention was fine, so is the other.

Perhaps Obama should not have said anything about the Scottish vote either. But in that case the UK government should not, presumably, have spent quite so much time drumming up support for its position from foreign governments. In 2014, however, almost all of this country’s friends and allies hoped – with varying degrees of secrecy – for a No vote just as those same friends and allies now hope Britain will vote to remain a part of the EU."

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