US President Barack Obama has come under fire for telling a newspaper that British voters should vote to remain in the European Union in June’s referendum.
Obama is in Britain on a short three-day visit to join in the Queen’s 90th birthday celebrations.
He took time off to speak to journalists from the Daily Telegraph about the repercussions of a possible Brexit.
Obama says membership of the EU gives the UK a bigger influence in world politics.
“Although I would not dream of telling anyone how to vote, my opinion is the outcome concerns the United States because of the economic, political and cultural links between our two countries that give us a special relationship,” said Obama.
Johnson’s heritage slur against Obama
“Thousands of American bodies at rest in cemeteries across Europe are testament to how the security and prosperity of each country are linked.”
Obama also explained that he had only commented because of the concern in Washington about the UK leaving the EU.
Prime Minister David Cameron, who is leading the stay campaign said that America was a close ally to Britain and the president had a right to make his views known.
His opposition leader, Tory MP and London mayor Boris Johnson cast doubt on Obama’s Kenyan heritage and claimed he was against a strong and independent Britain because of his upbringing in the former British colony.
Johnson, who was born in New York, also argued that the US would never join an organisation like the EU because of the nation’s background of liberty and independence.
Other prominent remain campaigners branded Johnson’s comments as repugnant and offensive, including MP Diane Abbott (Labour) and Lib Dem Lord Campbell.
The president also told the Telegraph that Britain had benefitted from EU membership with jobs, trade and economic growth.
“We are all more effective if we stick together,” said Obama. “This applies to intelligence sharing and counter-terrorism as well as economic prosperity and trade.”
Obama will fly from Britain to the Middle East via Germany next week.
He is to speak to the Saudi Arabian King Salman about unrest in Syria and Yemen, the country’s edgy relationship with Iran and the fight against ISIS.