Obama: Leaving EU won’t help Britain
BRUSSELS (AP) — President Barack Obama said today that it’s hard to see how Britain would benefit by leaving the European Union given that the 28-nation bloc’s decisions “have an enormous impact on its economic and political life”.
Britain must make its own choice, Obama said, but insisted that it is always an asset for the United States to know one of its closest allies “has a seat at the table in the larger European project”.
Obama spoke at a joint news conference with British Prime Minister David Cameron in Brussels after the G-7 summit of major economies.
Britain’s Conservative-led government is increasingly sceptical of what it perceives as meddling by the EU in national matters and has promised to hold a referendum on whether Britain should exit the EU, a political and economic bloc with half a billion citizens.
Britain’s fraught relationship with the EU is what many observers call the most vexing issue on Cameron’s agenda. He is pushing for a reform of the EU that would restore more power to national authorities.
“It’s about making some significant changes and then putting that decision in a referendum to the British people, but very much recommending that we stay in a reformed European Union,” Cameron said.
So far, however, Britain has mustered only a few allies across Europe.
In elections for the European Parliament last month, the Eurosceptic UKIP party came in first in Britain, further fuelling the debate on Europe. Many of Cameron’s fellow Tories would love to turn their back on the EU sooner than later.
Yet Britain’s business lobbies have warned leaving the EU would weaken the country’s economy and put Britain at risk of being shut out from a powerful political bloc and the world’s biggest free-trade zone.