Obama insults U.K. with Brexit criticism

Wil Gradle

In all of the excitement of the 2016 presidential election, Americans have become generally unfocused on certain global events that are bound to shift the global economic standing. This is by no means an attack, because in truth, I am among those who have turned their attention away from the rest of the world.

 Specifically, I want to address the upcoming vote for the United Kingdom (U.K.) to leave the European Union (EU) in June. For those who don’t know, the U.K. has had a historically strained relationship with the EU, often building bridges only to burn them a few years down the line.

 On June 23, the U.K. will vote and determine for itself whether or not it will retain its membership with the economic and political union. The current attitude of many citizens within the U.K. is very similar to that of congress following President Woodrow Wilson’s brokerage of the treaty of Versailles when they refused to ratify it on join Wilson’s League of Nations.

 In short, being a member of the EU requires certain immigration and economic policies that are seen, by some, as overly restrictive. Many citizens favor the “Brexit,” shorthand for “British Exit,” thinking that the U.K. ought to have fewer rules imposed upon it by other nations, especially in regard to immigration.

 Those who are outspoken against the Brexit, President Obama included, claim that it may offer too much economic instability to be feasible or even responsible. The European economy has been left limping along since the great recession, having a current inflation rate of 0 percent and annual GDP growth of 1.7 percent.

 President Obama feels so strongly against the withdrawal that he’s even gone as far as to say that the U.K. will be “in the back of the queue” in terms of trade negotiations with the United States. Think about that. Our President threatened to kick the U.K. to the back of the line when it comes to trade.

 To be sure, the U.S. has a long-standing history of interventionism, right, wrong or indifferent; but to threaten one of our longest and strongest allies with a punitive trade precedent for desiring greater political and economic autonomy? It seems to me that his comments are at least a little hypocritical. 

 It is important to look back to the earlier example of the U.S.’s position on the League of Nations. Self-determination is an inherently American ideal that we have consistently sought to protect, and now we are trying to bully one of our most steadfast allies into giving up that ideal for our convenience?

 Imagine for a moment if the roles were reversed. If the U.S. was looking to remove itself from, say, the North American Free Trade Agreement and having the U.K. saying that they would work with Mexico and Canada in trade agreements before they would work with us. Would that not sound completely ludicrous?

 At the very least, a large portion of Americans would likely resent the U.K. for saying anything at all. A country should be free to enter into or exit from any entangling relationships that they want without foreign leaders intervening, especially when the decision is reached through a democratic referendum.