"There would even be an element of moral disapproval"by Andrew Stuttaford / February 17, 2016 / Leave a comment
Read more: Twelve things you need to know about Brexit
The news that Barack Obama is, in the words of the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Bob Corker, planning “a big, public reach-out” to persuade British voters to remain in the EU should not come as a great surprise. Obama has made his thoughts clear on this topic for a while now, and so have his surrogates, including Michael Froman, America’s most senior trade official. In October last year, Froman somewhat menacingly suggested that the US would not be particularly interested in signing a trade agreement with a post-Brexit Britain.
For his part, Obama was in sync with the long-established, bipartisan Washington line. Henry Kissinger may never have said, in the words famously attributed to him, “Who do I call if I want to call Europe?” but the US has backed deeper European integration since the dawn of the Cold War. It was regarded as a supplement of sorts to NATO as well as a guarantee that Europeans would not again be at each other’s throats. Having, as they saw it, come in to rescue the old world twice in one century, Americans were anxious to avoid a third go-round.
And with British power waning, the US thought that London should throw in its lot with Brussels, not least because the Brits could be useful allies there. Damon Wilson, a former member of George W Bush’s National Security Council, recently fretted that Brexit would deprive the US “of a critical voice in shaping not only EU policy, but the future of Europe.” This viewpoint that may not reflect political reality (no member state is more outvoted in the EU than Britain), but it remains highly influential nonetheless.
However, a few months earlier, Jeb Bush had this to say about Froman’s not so veiled threat: “Great Britain is a sovereign nation, and they must make this decision about…