After departing from Saudi Arabia, U.S. President Barack Obama stopped in Britain for his last visit as President of the United States of America.
President Obama was scheduled to visit with Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip and later dine with her grandsons, Prince Harry and Prince William and his wife, Kate.
The business portion of Obama’s stop in London was to meet with Prime Minister David Cameron about the coalition campaign against ISIS, Russia’s position against Ukraine and its increasingly aggressive military posturing in international waters, and Britain’s possible exit from the European Union.
The U.S. president penned an opinion piece in the Daily Telegraph newspaper urging Britain to remain in the EU. The piece created a stir as the outspoken mayor of London, Boris Johnson criticized Obama for meddling in Britain’s affairs and said he should mind his own business. Johnson also used the opportunity to criticize Obama for removing a bust of Sir Winston Churchill from the Oval Office when Obama was first sworn in as President.
Mayor Johnson referred to the removal of Churchill’s bust in a statement in The Sun, “No one was sure whether the President had himself been involved in the decision. Some said it was a snub to Britain. Some said it was a symbol of the part-Kenyan President’s ancestral dislike of the British empire – of which Churchill had been such a fervent defender.”
Johnson received instant criticism for calling Obama a “part-Kenyan President.”
Shadow International Development Secretary, Diane Abbott, described Johnson’s remarks as “offensive” and that they mirrored those of the Tea Party’s right wing.
Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell tweeted that Johnson should withdraw his remarks. “Mask slips again. Boris part-Kenyan Obama comment is yet another example of dog whistle racism from senior Tories. He should withdraw it.”
Mayor Johnson blasted Obama for telling Britain to stay the course in the EU.
“It is deeply anti-democratic – and much as I admire the United States, and much as I respect the President, I believe he must admit that his country would not dream of embroiling itself in anything of the kind.”
“It is incoherent. It is inconsistent, and yes it is downright hypocritical. The Americans would never contemplate anything like the EU, for themselves or for their neighbors in their own hemisphere. Why should they think it right for us?”
Sir Stephen Wall, former British Permanent Representative to the European Union, disagreed with Mayor Johnson’s statement and mildly defended Obama. “Boris Johnson’s comment implying the President of the United States is driven by his ancestral dislike of the British Empire is demeaning to the debate. Using that type of language does not reflect Britain’s standing in the world or the country we aspire to be.”
He concluded, “As our most important ally, President Obama has the right to offer his view and he has made it clear that being in Europe magnifies British influence and enhances Britain’s global leadership.”
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