More than 100 members of parliament have signed a letter to the U.S. ambassador in London warning President Barack Obama to avoid intervening in the United Kingdom’s vote on membership of the European Union.
The letter, which was organised by the former secretary of state for defense (and a prominent supporter of Britain exiting the E.U.), says Obama’s open support for the “Remain campaign” would be “highly damaging” and would erode the “validity of the result.” (RELATED: What is Brexit? Everything You Need To Know About Britain’s EU Referendum)
Obama will visit the U.K. on April 22 and is expected to endorse the Remain campaign at a press conference with Prime Minister David Cameron. But MPs supporting Brexit are furious the president is intervening in what they view as a domestic political issue.
“It has long been the established practice not to interfere in the domestic political affairs of our allies and we hope that this will continue,” the letter states.
“While the U.S. administration may have a view on the desirability or otherwise of Britain’s continued membership of the E.U., any explicit intervention in the debate is likely to be extremely controversial and potentially damaging.”
“We hope that you will persuade President Obama from becoming embroiled in what is a highly delicate, sensitive and important issue for the British people.”
“It is not for others around the world to try to encourage people to vote one way or the other,” leader of the House of Commons and Conservative cabinet minister Chris Grayling added.
“It is really quite important that our allies look at this as a decision for British people. Whether we are inside or outside the European Union does not affect our relationship with the United States.” (RELATED: How Brexit Would Impact The US: What The Experts Say)
But both the Department of State and the president insist Britain’s membership of the E.U. is of global significance and that Brexit could severely weaken the E.U. at a time of crisis leading to further instability on the continent.
Brits have, however, taken a keen interest in domestic U.S. politics. Parliament spent several hours in January debating whether the front-runner for the Republican nomination, Donald Trump, should be banned from coming to the U.K. The debate was triggered by a 100,000 strong petition asking for it to be discussed in parliament.
“The prime minister has made clear that he completely disagrees with Donald Trump’s remarks,” the government said in its response to the debate. The Home secretary has said that Donald Trump’s remarks in relation to Muslims “are divisive, unhelpful and wrong.”
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