Obama wades into British debate over EU exit, angering 'Brexit' proponents

Obama arrives in Britain
(Image credit: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

President Obama has a full schedule in Britain on Friday, including lunch with Queen Elizabeth II at Windsor Castle, meeting with Prime Minister David Cameron, and dining with Prince William, Duchess Kate, and Prince Harry at Kensington Palace. But before he even landed in Britain late Thursday, he had already caused a stir. Britain is in the middle of a spirited debate over a coming referendum on whether to withdraw the UK from the EU ("Brexit"), and Obama let his opinion be known in an op-ed for The Daily Telegraph.

"I realize that there's been considerable speculation — and some controversy — about the timing of my visit," he began. "And I confess: I do want to wish Her Majesty a happy birthday in person." But then he weighed in on the June 23 referendum, arguing for Britain to stay. Most of the article is dedicated to the "special relationship" between the U.S. and Britain, and the challenges they need to face together, but while Obama acknowledged that "ultimately, the question of whether or not the UK remains a part of the EU is a matter for British voters to decide for yourselves," he also argues that "the U.S. and the world need your outsized influence to continue — including within Europe."

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Peter Weber, The Week US

Peter has worked as a news and culture writer and editor at The Week since the site's launch in 2008. He covers politics, world affairs, religion and cultural currents. His journalism career began as a copy editor at a financial newswire and has included editorial positions at The New York Times Magazine, Facts on File, and Oregon State University.