THE BREXIT DEBATE REDIVIVUS: IS THERE ANY POINT?
"George Osborne, chancellor, has challenged Brexit campaigners to name a single major world leader — apart from Russian president Vladimir Putin — or a big international body backing a British exit from the EU. The lopsided nature of this battle for international endorsements became more awkward for the Leave camp on Wednesday, with news that French National Front leader Marine Le Pen is joining the fight for a Brexit.... The intervention of foreign politicians can be counter-productive but Mr Cameron has little doubt that an intervention by Mr Obama this week will be helpful to his cause. The US president is expected to make his view known that Washington would prefer Britain to be a leading figure in the EU, both in the interests of promoting a liberal free-trading Europe and for security reasons.... Mr Cameron is relishing the prospect of Mr Obama making the case for staying in Britain. The issue is expected to arise at a Downing Street press conference on Friday and at a “town hall meeting” on Saturday. Boris Johnson, the pro-Brexit London mayor, has accused Mr Obama of “hypocrisy” ahead of the visit, claiming that the US would never share its sovereignty with a body like the EU. But Malcolm Rifkind, former foreign secretary, said: “What Boris and his colleagues have to come to terms with is that there is nobody in the world — apart from Putin — who wants us to leave. 'Leaders of the old Commonwealth like Australia and New Zealand have urged the UK to stay in the EU, so have all our colleagues in Nato. Putin is the only one in favour — he would be delighted if western Europe fell apart'."George Parker & Anne-Sylvaine Chassany, "Obama to back UK staying in EU on London visit". The Financial Times. 20 April 2016, in www.ft.com
"Barack Obama’s decision to visit Britain during an election campaign was controversial enough. His writing an article against Brexit in the Daily Telegraph was more controversial still. But to stand in Downing Street and threaten his host country with being dumped “at the back of the queue” for trade talks should it choose to leave the EU is, I think, too much. It’s precisely the comment that could backfire, and spark indignation. And make people ask: who on earth is Obama to come to Britain and speak to us in this way?"Fraser Nelson, "Will Barack Obama’s “back of the queue” threat backfire?" The Spectator. 22 April 2016, in www.spectator.co.uk. The answer to the usually ultra-intelligent Fraser Nelson is actually rather simple: the campaigners for the United Kingdom exiting the European Union have been rather promiscuous about stating that a Great Britain outside of the European Union will be able to forge new or stronger relationships with two sorts of countries: i) those in the Anglo-sphere such as the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand; ii) the so-called 'upcoming' countries of the Far East and the Third World in general (some of which: Turkey, Brazil, Indonesia, are now longer very 'upcoming' these days...). The blunt but accurate statement of the American President to-day clearly shows that as per the first group of countries this is very far from the case. To put it mildly. None of these countries has any interest in the United Kingdom leaving the European Union. As per the second group of countries: they have also not indicated any particular interest in London leaving the European Union. There is in the case of these countries the added matter that the United Kingdom does not in fact have much to offer by way of exports to these countries. Nor given their rather hard-nosed tendencies as per trade negotiations, any expectations that they will be especially interested in giving the Britain an easy time of it, if it were to leave the European Union. In short the truism cogently pointed out by the former British Foreign Secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind that aside from Mr. Putin no world leader or country is supporting a British Exit. Does not this simple fact make obvious that the whole concept of a British exit from the European Union is nonsensical in the extreme?