- The Washington Times - Friday, April 22, 2016

President Obama warned British voters Friday that their country’s economic relationship with the U.S. could suffer if they decide in a June referendum to leave the European Union.

At a press conference with Prime Minister David Cameron, Mr. Obama said Great Britain would be “at the back of the queue” in seeking trade deals with the U.S. if it left the alliance. He said negotiating trade deals with a single country is “hugely inefficient” as opposed to making agreements with a bloc of nations such as the EU.

“Maybe at some point down the line there might be a U.K.-U.S. trade agreement,” Mr. Obama said. “But it’s not going to happen anytime soon because our focus is in negotiating with a big block of the European Union to get a trade agreement done. And the U.K. is going to be in the back of the queue.”

Asked by a British reporter if he should be keeping his views to himself, Mr. Obama said he wasn’t trying to influence the referendum.

“I’m not coming here to fix any votes,” Mr. Obama said. “I’m offering my opinion. You should not be afraid to hear an argument being made. That is not a threat, that should enhance the debate.”

Mr. Cameron, who also opposes Britain leaving the EU, said Mr. Obama’s views on the subject are relevant.

“I don’t have some special power over the president of the United States,” Mr Cameron said. “We’ll make the decision. But listening to our friends … is part of the process.”

The president said the referendum “will send a signal that is relevant, about whether the kind of prosperity that we’ve built together is going to continue, or whether the forces of division end up being more prominent.”

“And that’s part of the reason why it is relevant to the United States and why I have had the temerity to weigh in on it,” Mr. Obama said.


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