Part of the Brexit narrative is that breaking ties with the European Union does not matter as a trans-Atlantic trading partnership would serve us just as well. Another part of that narrative is that the UK is at least as well-placed as the EU to make trade deals with other parts of the world.
Last week’s presidential visit made it clear that this narrative is a fantasy, a fairy tale. Obama calmly and rationally explained that trade deals take time and a lot of effort, that the USA was deeply involved in trade talks currently with the European Union and, given that even with Brexit the EU economy is many times the size of the UK’s, that those talks would take priority and a post-Brexit UK would have to take its turn after the EU deal and other negotiations, to go to “the back of the queue”.
The effectiveness of the president’s intervention can be seen from the frothy-mouthed responses by the Leave campaign: American-ophile Boris Johnson in particular made himself look ridiculous. Obama’s calm words had the green ink brigade rushing round the studios arguing that an American would say “back of the line” not “queue” and so it must all be some conspiracy (really? are they saying that he would be incapable of putting it into British colloquialism without Downing Street advice?).
Surely, a smarter move for the Brexit-ers would have been to point out the deficiencies of the deal on the table – TTIP – and say we would be better off without it. But of course, this lot actually want all the privatisation parts of TTIP that horrify the rest of us.
All the President did was very logically set out how his nation would deal with the UK if it left the EU. Surely, that is useful advice for us to consider before we vote?
We want to thank the president for giving us all some friendly, candid advice.