US President Barack Obama has arrived in the UK ahead of meetings with Prime Minister David Cameron and the Queen, who celebrated her 90th birthday on 21 April. However Obama's Air Force One has flown right into a storm — with politicians campaigning for the EU accusing him of interference and Ukip's Nigel Farage telling him to "butt out."
Obama probably felt he would be sure of a warmer reaction on landing at Stansted than he did on arriving in Saudi Arabia's capital Riyadh yesterday. Snubbed by King Salman on landing and then given a decidedly cool reception, he would usually have felt he was on safer ground arriving in Britain. However Obama's comments about why he believes the UK should remain in the EU haven't gone down well with "Vote Leave" campaigners led by Mayor of London Boris Johnson.
Johnson — himself born in New York — said the US would never accept the same sort of restrictions over its own sovereignty. "The President will tell us all that UK membership of the EU is right for Britain, right for Europe, and right for America," Johnson wrote in The Telegraph.
" And why? Because that — or so we will be told — is the only way we can have 'influence' in the counsels of the nations," Johnson continued. "It is an important argument, and deserves to be taken seriously. I also think it is wholly fallacious — and coming from Uncle Sam, it is a piece of outrageous and exorbitant hypocrisy."
Ukip leader Nigel Farage went even further, telling Obama to "butt out" of UK affairs. "This is an unwelcome interference from the most anti-British American president there has ever been," said Farage. "Mercifully, he won't be in office for much longer."
President Obama will be hoping for a warmer reception when he lunches with the Queen at Windsor Castle. He will then have talks with Cameron, who might have mixed feelings about an endorsement from a President in his last year in office —and with whom he has never enjoyed the warmest of friendships.
Speaking on Question Time Dr Liam Fox, who is part of the Vote Leave campaign, said he didn't like the UK being told to accept something the US would never accept themselves. Paddy Ashdown of the Britain Stronger in Europe campaign denied Obama was interfering. The US, he said, had helped defend Britain at great cost in three major wars and had earned the right to express a view.