London Mayor Boris Johnson has warned President Barack Obama not to intervene in the U.K’s European Union referendum during a visit to the country next month.
The mayor, the country’s foremost supporter of Britain’s withdrawal from the 28-nation bloc, predicted in his weekly newspaper column for the Daily Telegraph that Obama would use his visit to urge Britons to vote to remain in the E.U., as doing so would be in the best interests of the world. But he added that it would be “outrageous and exorbitant hypocrisy” for the president to say it.
A country that defends its own sovereignty with “hysterical vigilance,” he writes, has no right to be telling Britain to “comply with a system that the Americans would themselves reject out of hand.”
Johnson’s opinion piece was sparked by a report in the Independent on Sunday newspaper that claimed Obama would visit in April to “use his star power” to urge Britons to remain in the EU in the referendum set for June 23.
Prime Minister David Cameron backs staying in the European Union under a set of reforms he negotiated with European leaders over the winter. His Conservative Party, however, is split on the question of European Union membership, while opposition parties are largely united in support for remaining within it.
The White House has yet to confirm Obama will visit the U.K, Politico reports.
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