With the notable exception of GOP candidate Donald Trump, American politicians reacted cautiously to the U.K.’s historic vote to leave the European Union. As the Brexit decision was sending shockwaves through global markets and casting doubt on the future of the EU, American leaders, from President Obama to presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, issued statements. Trump stood out for celebrating the vote.
President Barack Obama
During a visit to the United Kingdom in April, Obama encouraged Britain to remain in the EU while also stressing that the decision was up to the nation’s voters. On Friday, the White House released this statement from President Obama:
The people of the United Kingdom have spoken, and we respect their decision. The special relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom is enduring, and the United Kingdom’s membership in NATO remains a vital cornerstone of U.S. foreign, security, and economic policy. So too is our relationship with the European Union, which has done so much to promote stability, stimulate economic growth, and foster the spread of democratic values and ideals across the continent and beyond. The United Kingdom and the European Union will remain indispensable partners of the United States even as they begin negotiating their ongoing relationship to ensure continued stability, security, and prosperity for Europe, Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the world.
VICE PRESIDENT JOSEPH BIDEN
Joseph Biden was the first top American leader to make a statement, saying the U.S. wished Britain had voted to stay in the European Union but respected the result of the Brexit referendum.
“I must say we had looked for a different outcome. We would have preferred a different outcome … but the United States has a long-standing friendship with the United Kingdom and that very special bond will endure,” he said in a speech in Dublin.
“We fully respect the decision they have made,” he said.
Clinton, the presumptive Democratic nominee, echoed Obama and Biden’s statements, reaffirming that “we respect the choice the people of the United Kingdom have made.” She also stressed that this “time of uncertainty only underscores the need for calm, steady experienced leadership in the White House.”
Donald Trump, the presumptive GOP nominee, celebrated the Brexit vote. Shortly after he arrived in Scotland for the reopening of his Turnberry golf resort, he tweeted:
Then at a press conference at his golf resort, he speculated that the historic vote –which has sent shockwaves through global markets—could prove beneficial for his resort. “When the pound goes down, more people are coming to Turnberry, frankly,” Trump said. “For traveling and for other things, I think it very well could turn out to be a positive.”
Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders didn’t directly comment on whether he favored Britain’s vote to leave the EU, but in an interview with MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” Sanders said, “What worries me very much is the breaking down of international cooperation…On the other hand, I think what this vote is about is an indication that the global economy is not working for everybody. It’s not working in the United States for everybody and it’s not working in the UK for everybody.”
House Speaker Paul Ryan
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) issued a statement:
“I respect the decision made by the people of the United Kingdom. The UK is an indispensable ally of the United States, and that special relationship is unaffected by this vote.”