Obama: US-UK relationship endures after 'Brexit'

  • 25/06/2016
US President Barack Obama (Reuters)
US President Barack Obama (Reuters)

US President Barack Obama says the United States' relationship with both the United Kingdom and the European Union will endure in the wake of Britain's decision to leave the bloc.

"The people of the United Kingdom have spoken, and we respect their decision," Obama said in a statement on Friday (local time).

"The United Kingdom and the European Union will remain indispensable partners of the United States even as they begin negotiating their ongoing relationship," Obama added.

Britain's decision to leave the EU has forced the resignation of Prime Minister David Cameron and dealt the biggest blow since World War Two to the European project of greater unity.

The decision was met with watchful acceptance by US officials even as it rattled Wall Street and other markets around the world.

US Vice President Joe Biden, travelling in Ireland, said the United States would have preferred Britain to have voted to remain in the European Union, but respected the result.

"I must say we had looked for a different outcome. We would have preferred a different outcome... but the United States has a long-standing friendship with the United Kingdom and that very special bond will endure," he said in a speech in Dublin.

Obama, during a visit to London in April, had argued passionately against Brexit.

He had travelled to London at the request of Cameron, whom he calls a friend, exhorting Britons to stay in the EU. The unusual intervention was denounced as meddling by those campaigning for the country to leave the EU.

Obama has said his involvement was justified because of the two countries' longstanding special relationship.

He also had warned that leaving the EU would put Britain at the "back of the queue" for a trade deal with the United States.

His former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic presidential candidate in the November 8 election, had also said she hoped the UK would stay in the EU.

In response to Britain's decision to leave, Clinton said the United States must first safeguard against any economic fallout at home at "this time of uncertainty" and underscore its commitment to both Britain and Europe.

The presumptive Republican nominee - real estate magnate Donald Trump - had taken the opposite stance.

Trump, in Scotland on Friday to reopen a golf resort, said Obama was partly to blame for the British outcome.

He praised Britons who he said "took back control of their country" by voting to leave the European Union.