By David A. Patten
Watch any of the TV news talk shows Friday and almost all have ignored one important fact: the Brexit ‘Leave’ victory was another humiliating loss for President Barack Obama.
In fact, some British polls even showed that voter sentiment moved decidedly in favor of Brexit after Obama traveled to Britain and urged a “no” vote.
British voters delivered a stinging rebuke to Obama on Thursday when they opted to leave the EU by a 52 percent to 48 percent margin.
So strong was the backlash to Obama’s blatant attempt to influence the Brexit vote – polls following his April visit to London showed the opposition to his remarks running at about 60 percent – that a reasonable case could be made he contributed to the outcome.
Obama’s threatening remarks against Britain over Brexit seemed to have ignited a tempest.
Upon leaving the EU, Obama said, Britain should not expect a new trade deal with the U.S., that it would be “in the back of the queue.”
In a subsequent interview with the BBC, Obama suggested that a new trade deal with America’s closest ally “could be five years from now, 10 years from now before we were able to actually get something done.”
Obama’s use of the Briticism “queue” for the word “line” triggered widespread speculation that the President’s comments had, in fact, been written for him at 10 Downing Street.
Former London Mayor Boris Johnson, a staunch opponent of remaining in the EU and allowing unbridled immigration, blasted Obama’s remarks as “paradoxical, inconsistent, and incoherent.”
A Daily Mail editorial was equally brutal of Obama’s anti-Brexit interference, saying Obama had shown “contempt for voters.”
“The tone was patronizing, the language menacing – and the message not only hypocritical but, frankly, insulting,” it added. “… He has no business to come here and preach that submission to Brussels is good for the people of the U.K.”
Polls suggested British voters concurred. All four polls taken in the aftermath of Obama’s remarks, made by a president widely perceived as an avatar of globalism, showed a shift in favor of leaving the EU by between 1 and 4 percentage points – almost as soon as Air Force One departed British airspace.
A cartoon of Obama seated with the Queen at a dinner table captured the public’s reaction. As the Queen drew back, Obama interjected to the waiter: “She’ll have the fish.”
Despite the U.S. media’s blackout of Obama’s role in Brexit, GOP presumptive nominee Donald Trump was quick to blame the President’s meddling.
“I think it’s something he shouldn’t have done. It’s not his country. It’s not his part of the world. And I actually think that his recommendation perhaps caused it to fail,” Trump said.
A statement released by the White House Friday appeared to downplay the vote’s significance, which is already shaking global markets.
“The special relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom is enduring,” Obama said.
Arguably, the biggest loser in the Brexit vote is Obama, who invested his personal prestige and global popularity in the referendum, and lost.
Said Trump of the British: “They’re angry over borders, they’re angry over people coming into the country and taking over, nobody even knows who they are. They’re angry about many, many things.”
Perhaps one of those things was Obama.