Obama urges Britain stay in EU, warns trade deal would lag if it leaves

US President Barack Obama advises Britons to vote to stay in EU and warns that trade deal would be delayed if they leave bloc

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron (R) and US President Barack Obama (L) attend a press conference at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in central London on April, 22, 2016.

US President Barack Obama said he hoped he would be able to influence some British voters' decisions at a June 23 referendum on Britain's membership of the European Union, speaking after making a series of pro-EU interventions during a trip to London.

"My hope is, is that this is something that would have some influence on how voters think," Obama told the BBC in an interview broadcast on Sunday.

"For ordinary voters I thought it would be relevant to hear what the president of the United States, who loves the British people and cares deeply about this relationship, has to say about it," he said.

He also emphasised in an interview that the trade deal between Britain and the United States could take five to 10 years to negotiate if Britain votes to leave the European Union at a June 23 referendum.

"It could be five years from now, 10 years from now before we're actually able to get something done," Obama told the British broadcaster in an excerpt posted online.

Obama, who is in the last nine months of his presidential term, has spent the last three days in London urging Britons to remain part of the EU as a divided British public prepares to vote on whether to remain a member of the 28-country bloc.

He told the BBC that Britain would not get preferential treatment over the EU when it came to negotiating a new trade deal.

"The UK would not be able negotiate something with the United States faster than the EU," Obama said. "We wouldn't abandon our efforts to negotiate a trade deal with our largest trading partner, the European market."

Obama's visit and decision to intervene in the EU debate has angered the Eurosceptic "Out" campaign, which has repeatedly argued that Britain could easily negotiate deals and get better terms outside the EU.

TRTWorld, Reuters