As a British citizen living in Britain it was absolutely obvious to me during the Brexit referendum that Obama’s intervention in the referendum – calling on British voters to vote to remain in the EU and warning them the US would put Britain at the “back of the queue” for trade deals if they didn’t – was catastrophically misjudged. I told several people who have cause to remember that Obama’s intervention would make more British voters vote Leave.
What was at the time a rare view is now in Britain the well-nigh universal consensus. It is now accepted here that the Remain camp’s effort to recruit establishment figures from outside Britain to try to influence the referendum result in their favour was a colossal mistake. There is of course no more establishment figure in the world than the US President.
One party however remains in total denial about this. That party is the US government – as this video shows.
It’s not just that directly after the Brexit vote Secretary of State Kerry acted with the same patronising condescension towards the British that US President Obama did during the Brexit vote. It is that despite the fact being repeatedly pointed out to him, State Department spokesman Mark Toner seems unable to see it. Whilst the US is always very quick to respond in the most prickly way to slights – real or imagined – the most Mark Toner is prepared to admit is that Obama and Kerry might have been a little “casual” in their comments, with the implication being that the silly British are wrong to be annoyed about it.
The Brexit referendum was an internal British affair, part of a prolonged and difficult conversation the British have been having for many years about their place in Europe. They do not take kindly to self-interested and self-important outsiders like Obama and Kerry barging in to lecture them on what they should think and do. Nor would anyone else in the same position, the US included. It is high time the US understood that.