THE OUT CAMPAIGN has been left reeling after US president Barack Obama swung behind the EU debate to give his emphatic backing for the UK remaining in the union.
Britain, he said, would “go to the back of the queue” in seeking a newly-drawn trade deal with Washington.
“It could be five years from now, ten years from now before we’re actually able to get something done,” he told the BBC, adding that the first priority for the US would be to complete talks already underway on a trade deal with the EU.
Stung, several prominent Brexit campaigners criticised Obama for interfering in a democratic process that does not concern him or his country.
UKIP leader Nigel Farage in particular urged the US president to “butt out” of the debate.
“He doesn’t think the UK should be an independent sovereign democracy,” he added.
The outgoing president, though, defended his right to express his views, and said: “I don’t anticipate that anything I’ve said will change the position of those who are leading the campaigns in one direction or the other, but for ordinary voters I thought it would be relevant to hear what the president of the United States, who loves the British people and cares deeply about this relationship, has to say.”
Several other eurosceptic MPs tried to cast Obama as a spent force who will soon end his tenure as president, but that line of argument was undermined as Hillary Clinton, frontrunner to succeed Obama, expressed similar sentiments over the weekend.