US politicians respond to Brexit with domestic interests in mind
The people of the United Kingdom have voted to withdraw from the European Union, and politicians in the US are drawing parallels between the historic move and economic and political dissatisfaction back home.
Though he would have preferred the UK to stay in the European Union, on Friday President Barack Obama released a statement saying he respects the decision of the British people and reassured them that their special relationship with the US will remain.
“The people of the United Kingdom have spoken, and we respect their decision,” the statement read. “The special relationship between the United Kingdom and the United States is enduring, and the United Kingdom’s membership in NATO remains a vital cornerstone of US foreign, security and economic policy.”
President Obama also assured those in the European Union, which the president said has done “so much” to promote stability and economic growth, that the bloc’s relationship with the US will remain unchanged.
During a visit to the UK in April, Obama had urged voters to cast their ballots for “Remain,” warning that if the country left the EU it would be at the “back of the queue” for trade deals with the United States such as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).
Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump, on the other hand, sided with the “Leave” camp that ended up garnering 52 percent of votes.
Trump, who was on a business trip to Scotland at the time, said it was a “great thing” that the people of the UK have “taken back their country,” according to the BBC.
"People are angry all over the world. They're angry over borders, they're angry over people coming into the country and taking over and nobody even knows who they are,” said the businessman at the Scottish resort he bought two years ago.
Just arrived in Scotland. Place is going wild over the vote. They took their country back, just like we will take America back. No games!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 24, 2016
Hillary Clinton, who is presumed to be Trump’s Democratic rival in the presidential race, had initially urged Britons to stay in the EU, but released a statement saying the she “respect[s] the choice the people of the United Kingdom have made.”
Predicting that there could be “economic uncertainty” created by the move, Clinton said that the first ask for Americans is to make sure any such downturn “does not hurt working families” back home.
The candidate used the opportunity to take a subtle jab at Trump and position herself as a more level-headed candidate.
“This time of uncertainty only underscores the need for calm, steady, experienced leadership in the White House to protect Americans’ pocketbooks and livelihoods, to support our friends and allies, to stand up to our adversaries, and to defend our interests,” Clinton said.
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, Clinton’s rival in the Democratic primary, was also worried about the implications of the vote.
“I think it’s a decision for the British people but I have concerns,” Sanders said in a Friday interview with CBS This Morning. "I have concerns you know when we think back over the last 100 years and the horrible wars, the kind of blood that was shed throughout Europe – the idea of the countries coming closer together is something that we want to see."
House Speaker Paul Ryan did not take a firm position on the referendum one way or the other, but assured those in the United Kingdom that their relationship with the US would not be affected by their departure from the EU.
"I respect the decision made by the people of the United Kingdom," Ryan said in a statement Friday morning. "The UK is an indispensable ally of the United States, and that special relationship is unaffected by this vote."
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas), who had previously warned President Obama against punishing the UK for leaving the EU, made a statement on Friday morning saying that he respects the decision of the British people to exercise their “their sovereign right of self-government” and leave the bloc.
“Now is the time to preserve and strengthen our special relationship with the United Kingdom, which remains our closest NATO ally and a key member of the Five Eyes intelligence alliance,” Cotton said, adding that the US should now begin new trade negotiations with the UK.
"Meanwhile, the result of this referendum should remind leaders in Washington, London, Brussels, and across Europe that our citizens are dissatisfied with stagnant economies, declining wages, uncontrolled migration, rising crime, and terror attacks at home. It's time to abandon the failed policies of the past and solve the real problems of the present,” Cotton said.
House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer said that he was "very disappointed" with Britain's move.
"It is clear that the self-inflicted instability was fueled, in no small part, by the anti-immigrant, isolationist populism we’re seeing on the rise throughout the world and even here at home,” Hoyer said in a statement, adding that people in Europe and the US “awoke” to what he called the shocking consequences of ignoring populist movements.
“The United States continues to support European integration and unity in order to meet with strength the common challenges posed by economic instability, Russian expansionism, and extremist terror.”