Obama's visit to London coincides with a personal article published in the conservative Daily Telegraph newspaper in which he argues the case for Britain remaining in the European Union, in the upcoming referendum on June 23. Former Conservative Party leader and Vote Leave supporter Iain Duncan-Smith told Sputnik his intervention is "strange."
— Stronger In (@StrongerIn) April 22, 2016
In the article, Obama states: "You should be proud that the EU has helped spread British values and practices — democracy, the rule of law, open markets — across the continent and to its periphery. The European Union doesn't moderate British influence — it magnifies it. A strong Europe is not a threat to Britain's global leadership; it enhances Britain's global leadership.
"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.
In response, UK Prime Minister David Cameron tweeted:
The US is one of our closest allies. So it's important to hear Barack Obama on why we should remain in the EU: https://t.co/ExL0KlMw7S— David Cameron (@David_Cameron) April 22, 2016
Using such strong language to promote the cause of Britain remaining in Europe has brought choruses of disapproval from anti-EU campaigners, who sas his intervention is undiplomatic.
London Mayor Boris Johnson slammed it, saying:
"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."
"I have a huge amount of respect for America's unrelenting commitment to the patriotic principle of self-governance. President Obama, and every one of his predecessors, have ferociously protected the sovereignty of the USA — and I only wish we could say the same of our leaders," Iain Duncan-Smith told Sputnik.
"What I do find strange is that he is asking the British people to accept a situation that he patently would not recommend to the American population. I can imagine no circumstances under which he would lobby for the US Supreme Court to be bound by the judgments of a foreign court. Nor can I imagine any circumstances in which he would accept that laws should be made for — or taxes imposed on — the people of the United States without the approval of Congress.
"If he believes it would be unacceptable for the American people — those he is actually elected to guide — I fail to see how it is appropriate for him to recommend that the British people continue to relinquish their right to democratic self-governance."
A Cameron-Obama press conference/ huge event. Just think, next year it could be Osborne-Trump… (Or Leadsom-Clinton)— steve hawkes (@steve_hawkes) April 22, 2016
Worrying about Obama coming to UK to tell voters what to do is rich when 3 Amigos Cameron Clegg Milliland came to Scotland in our ref #bbcqt— Angus B MacNeil MP (@AngusMacNeilSNP) April 21, 2016
"It is wrong for the US, and equally I believe it to be wrong for the UK," Duncan-Smith told Sputnik.
"That's why I am campaigning for us to leave the European Union and take back control of our borders and our law making powers, as well as the US$500 million we send to the EU every single week, so we can spend it on our own priorities instead," he added.