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Who’s Afraid of ‘Brexit’?

Tim Montgomerie isn’t pleased [1] with Obama’s planned intervention in the “Brexit” debate:

The timing of his visit, halfway through the EU referendum debate, is no accident. There is a longstanding international understanding that world leaders don’t visit during election campaigns — but such conventions were obviously designed for lesser mortals. Obama has no qualms and the Prime Minister has no shame: he needs every endorsement he can get.

The standard line from Washington is that “Brexit” will be bad for both the U.S. and the EU, and so taking sides in the debate is a legitimate thing for the president to do. Strobe Talbott puts this [2] in the most alarmist terms possible today:

As the suspense heightens, so should the recognition that Brexit could be the worst news yet for the trans-Atlantic community, particularly for Britain and the United States, and very bad news for the entire world.

In fact, it’s not clear that “Brexit” would be such a great problem for the U.S. or most of the world. It probably will be a headache for the rest of the EU, but not necessarily the disaster that some make it out to be. If the EU has proven to be so dysfunctional, undemocratic, and burdensome that one of its leading members wants to quit it, perhaps the U.S. shouldn’t be trying to be more European than the Europeans.

The fear that the EU might unravel because of “Brexit” underestimates the depth of ideological commitment to the project among Europe’s political classes and overrates the strength of Euroskeptic forces on the continent, but it also reflects the same contempt for the consent of the governed that defines so much of the European project. Talbott also warns that “Brexit” might lead to Scottish independence, but it’s entirely possible that Scotland will still go its own way following a Remain win. The referendum itself is likely to expose and deepen fault lines within the U.K. regardless of the outcome, and you can count on the SNP to take advantage of that. Talbott worries that Scottish independence might lead to the success of other separatist movements, but he fails to mention that these separatists are more firmly pro-EU than the countries from which they seek to withdraw. The one theme tying all of these warnings together is the terror that the voters in these countries might get their way rather than accept the preferences of their political leaders.

Even if “Brexit” were bad for the U.S., the president’s decision to endorse continued British membership in the EU is likely to backfire on him and the Remain campaign. There is no way that an American president’s intervention in a British referendum debate won’t seem like unwelcome outside interference, and it seems more likely to energize the Leave campaign’s supporters. The reality is that the U.S. will continue to have a close relationship with the U.K. whether it remains in the EU or not, just as it had before the EU or the EEC existed. The president should be emphasizing that when he visits this week instead of trying to put a thumb on the scales of the referendum.

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10 Comments To "Who’s Afraid of ‘Brexit’?"

#1 Comment By Jason C. On April 21, 2016 @ 4:07 pm

I can hear the Obama hecklers now: “If the EU’s so great, why aren’t you a member?”

#2 Comment By EliteCommInc. On April 21, 2016 @ 6:02 pm

“The reality is that the U.S. will continue to have a close relationship with the U.K. whether it remains in the EU or not, just as it had before the EU or the EEC existed.”

Something about which we agree.

#3 Comment By Adam Rosenthal On April 21, 2016 @ 7:05 pm

“There is no way that an American president’s intervention in a British referendum debate won’t seem like unwelcome outside interference.”

To some who already favour exit, no doubt. But Obama’s very popular over here, so it may help with undecideds. It signals that mainstream, rational world opinion is in the Remain camp.

#4 Comment By Grumpy Old Man On April 21, 2016 @ 10:33 pm

Smash the Brussels Politburo! Our masters believe in democracy, except when it threatens their pet schemes.

#5 Comment By Fred Bowman On April 22, 2016 @ 12:07 am

It wasn’t that long ago that Obama got his “back up” about Netanyahu coming to the US weighting in Iran Deal. Yet Obama doesn’t see the hypocrisy of going to Britain to give his .02 cents on Britain leaving the EU.

#6 Comment By Grumpy Old Man On April 22, 2016 @ 5:39 am

Whatever happened to “overpaid, oversexed, and over here”?

#7 Comment By Ray Burston On April 22, 2016 @ 4:18 pm

We Brits take comfort in fact that – unlike the Washington political establishment – most ordinary Americans remain as distrustful of overweening supranational governments as we are. It’s why you would Yanks would never hand over your law-making powers to a faceless, undemocratic body like the European Union.

#8 Comment By EliteCommInc. On April 22, 2016 @ 10:23 pm

“It signals that mainstream, rational world opinion is in the Remain camp.”

Oh. That would be news to me.
_______________

“It’s why you would Yanks would never hand over your law-making powers to a faceless, undemocratic body like the European Union.”

Sure we do. It’s called the Supreme Court.

I only barely jest.

#9 Comment By Kurt Gayle On April 23, 2016 @ 2:09 pm

Sorry. I checked the wording of the referendum vote. Obama is supporting “Yes” — not “No.”
I’ve changed my wording accordingly:

Daniel is 100% right: “The reality is that the U.S. will continue to have a close relationship with the U.K. whether it remains in the EU or not, just as it had before the EU or the EEC existed.”

Brexit is not a threat to the US – which is why the US media silence about Brexit is so deafening!

So why then is Obama in the UK running off at the mouth on behalf of a “Yes” in the Brexit vote?

Just as “It’s the Economy, Stupid” was a 1992 Clinton campaign slogan, Obama’s opposition to Brexit can best be explained by “It’s the Banks, Stupid.”

That’s right dear Brother Barack is once again carrying water for the big Wall Street banks.

As Jon Marino (CNBC) writes: “…Most of the biggest banks operating on Wall Street have key operations in places like London and Ireland…Some banks may consider relocating trading operations to cities like Amsterdam or Frankfurt if the U.K. opts out of the EU.”

Big deal!

If the Brits were to vote for Brexit and some Wall Street banks decided to move the centers of their European operations from London to Amsterdam or Frankfort, so what?

Why does whether or not some Wall Street banks move some of their office space out of London justify to a US President intervening in an important British referendum?

Has Obama no sense of embarrassment – no sense of shame — to be seen as once again fronting for Goldman Sachs and the other Wall Street banks? (Has he been promised a job?)

And carrying water for the big banks over an issue that – even for the Wall Street banks – is fundamentally so inconsequential!

Puh-leez!

[3]

#10 Comment By Richard Parker On April 23, 2016 @ 8:07 pm

“(Has he been promised a job?)”

Why would he take a pay cut? More seriously what will he do with the rest of a long life?

My guess is that he’ll become the head of a new multi-trillion Global Development Agency funded by the usual suspects.