President Obama On Brexit: “We Respect Their Decision”


UPDATE, 11:30 AM: “Yesterday’s vote speaks to the ongoing changes and challenges that are raised by globalization,” President Barack Obama said today of Britain’s vote to exit the European Union. Speaking at a global entrepreneurship summit at Stanford University, Obama said he had spoken with Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel to discuss the vote’s repercussions in the rest of Europe. “We agreed the United States and our European allies will work closely together in the weeks and months ahead,” he said.
Obama said he’d also spoken with now-outgoing British PM David Cameron, who he called “an outstanding friend and partner on the global stage.”

“Based on our conversation, I’m confident the UK is committed to an orderly transition out of the EU,” he said.  As Britain’s relationship with the EU changes, “one thing that will not change, is the special relationship that exists between our two nations. That will endure,” he insisted.

PREVIOUS, 7:33 AM: As the world reacts sharply to the news overnight that the UK has voted to leave the European Union, President Barack Obama issued a statement of support from the White House. It comes after an April trip to London in which he urged the U.S.’ strongest European ally to remain in the EU.

“The people of the United Kingdom have spoken, and we respect their decision. The special relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom is enduring, and the United Kingdom’s membership in NATO remains a vital cornerstone of U.S. foreign, security, and economic policy.

“So too is our relationship with the European Union, which has done so much to promote stability, stimulate economic growth, and foster the spread of democratic values and ideals across the continent and beyond. The United Kingdom and the European Union will remain indispensable partners of the United States even as they begin negotiating their ongoing relationship to ensure continued stability, security, and prosperity for Europe, Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the world.”

While in London, Obama said that Europe in the 21st century “looks an awful lot better” than in the 20th century, and “I think a majority of Europeans recognize that.” He also warned that a potential Brexit vote could harm the UK’s trade status with the U.S., indicating that a trade agreement with the EU would be the States’ first priority, with the UK falling to the back of the line.

Whatever changes in the relationship between leaders of the U.S. and UK are, they will have to come with a new Prime Minister, after current PM David Cameron resigned early Friday in London after the vote became official. He too had been a staunch supporter of the Remain camp.

Obama’s statement today came as U.S. stocks fell sharply in reaction to the shock vote. Virtually every company in the sector opened down on fears that the UK exit could further weaken currencies versus the U.S. dollar, and depress spending. Last year, the value of the Euro dropped 16%, while the British Pound fell 7%, versus the U.S. dollar.

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