When President Barack Obama visits the U.K. next week, he’ll enter a political caldron that continues to boil as Britain considers whether to remain in the European Union. And he just stated his stance on the hot-button issue: he wants Britain to stay.
Obama’s advisers on Thursday said that the president believes that Britain’s future membership in the EU is a matter for the British people to decide—they’ll vote on it June 23—but it’s his view that keeping the bloc intact benefits the U.S., the U.K., and the rest of the EU. Britain’s exit from the EU would hurt its global influence, his advisers said, according to Bloomberg.
Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes told reporters that if the president is asked his opinion during his visit, he’ll offer it. “We believe that all of us benefit when the EU can speak with a strong and single voice, and can work with us to advance our shared interests, whether on security or prosperity,” Rhodes said.
In supporting the “stay” campaign, Obama aligns himself with big business, which fears the economic uncertainty Brexit could unleash, and British Prime Minister David Cameron. The two leaders have been close associates, but some cracks appeared in their relationship in March when Obama blasted Cameron for the U.K.’s response in Libya after the ouster of long-serving autocrat Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.
In an interview about his foreign policy with the magazine The Atlantic, Obama said that Cameron was distracted by priorities at home as Libya descended into what he characterized as “a mess” (and privately referred to as a “s*** show, according to the magazine).
The Obama administration later walked back those comments, stating that the White House “value[s] the U.K.’s contributions on our shared national security and foreign policy objectives which reflect our special and essential relationship.”
Obama is visiting London on a trip to Europe and the Middle East. He’ll hold a joint press conference with Cameron and have lunch with Queen Elizabeth during his stop in the city.