London Mayor Boris Johnson Slams President Obama's 'Brexit' Position
He cites the "part-Kenyan president’s ancestral dislike of the British empire."
— -- President Obama is dining with two generations of British royalty during his visit to England today, but not all of Britain’s leaders are as welcoming after he waded into the debate on whether the United Kingdom should remain in the European Union.
London Mayor Boris Johnson, who favors separating form the E.U., has gone so far as to deride the president as "part-Kenyan" after Obama published an op-ed in the British publication The Telegraph expressing his support for the U.K.’s continued membership in the controversial alliance.
Writing in U.K. publication The Sun today, Johnson accused Obama of removing the bronze bust of his hero, Winston Churchill, from the Oval Office by suggesting that it was "a symbol of the part-Kenyan president’s ancestral dislike of the British empire – of which Churchill had been such a fervent defender."
"For the United States to tell us in the U.K. that we must surrender control of so much of our democracy – it is a breathtaking example of the principle of do-as-I-say-but-not-as-I-do," Johnson goes on to say in the op-ed. "It is incoherent. It is inconsistent, and yes it is downright hypocritical. The Americans would never contemplate anything like the E.U., for themselves or for their neighbors in their own hemisphere. Why should they think it right for us?"
The United Kingdom is set to vote June 23 on a referendum, referred to as “Brexit," on whether to remain a member of the E.U.
Obama later defended his decision to address the matter in a news conference alongside British Prime Minister David Cameron, saying the upcoming vote was "a matter of deep concern to the United States," but that he wasn't "coming here to fix any votes."
"In democracies everyone should want more information, not less," Obama said. "That's not a threat, it should enhance the debate."
While Obama said his position didn't represent a threat, he did suggest that if Britain were to exit the E.U., the U.K. could be placed "in the back of the queue" in terms of negotiating future trade deals with the United States.
As for the bust of Churchill, the White House has previously sought to debunk the claim that Obama had it removed from the Oval Office, calling it "100 percent false."
The president also addressed the matter today in the joint news conference, explaining that it was placed outside his private office in the White House residence, known as the Treaty Room, where he sees it “every day, including on the weekends.” Also, Obama said, as the first African-American president, he thought it was appropriate to put Martin Luther King Jr.'s bust in the Oval Office.
In his op-ed, Obama implored the British people to recognize that their membership in the E.U. is in Britain and the United States’ best interest.
“The European Union doesn’t moderate British influence – it magnifies it,” Obama writes. “A strong Europe is not a threat to Britain’s global leadership; it enhances Britain’s global leadership.
“The United States sees how your powerful voice in Europe ensures that Europe takes a strong stance in the world, and keeps the E.U. open, outward looking, and closely linked to its allies on the other side of the Atlantic. So the U.S. and the world need your outsized influence to continue – including within Europe.”
London’s mayor is not alone in criticizing the president for his stance on the issue, with the British satirical magazine The Spectator running a photo portraying Obama as royalty under the headline “Obama’s Brexit overreach is typical of his arrogance.”
Nigel Farage, the leader of the U.K. Independence Party and a leading advocate for separating from the E.U., has labeled Obama “the most anti-British American president” in history and has published an op-ed in Breitbart calling the president out for his perceived hypocrisy, arguing that the United States would never tolerate an equivalent partnership to the E.U.
“Let’s get real; would any American President seriously open up their borders unconditionally to Mexico as the U.K. has done to the whole of the EU? No chance,” Farage writes.