US to Britain on EU Membership: Do As I Say, Not As I Do

Boris Johnson, Barack Obama

London Major Boris Johnson spotted the glaring flaw in Pres. Obama’s argument that Britain should stay in the European Union – the US has steadfastly refused to surrender an inch of its own sovereignty – so why should Britain?

aNewDomain — U.S. Pres. Barack Obama is a “hypocrite” for urging Britain to stay in the European Union, says London mayor Boris Johnson.

The United States has steadfastly refused to join any organization or sign any treaty that diminishes American sovereignty, Johnson pointed out. So how, he added, can the US justify asking Britain to remain in an organization that can overrule its Parliament and its courts?

Many Brits, including the ruling Conservative Party, have complained for years about the over-reaching arms of the European Union and its ever-growing bureaucracy. The euro financial crisis confirmed the fears of the British EU skeptics, and Prime Minister David Cameron promised in the last British election to hold a referendum on leaving the EU.

In an op-ed piece in today’s Sun, Johnson bolstered his previous arguments against the US position:

It is incoherent. It is inconsistent, and yes it is downright hypocritical. The Americans would never contemplate anything like the EU, for themselves or for their neighbours in their own hemisphere. Why should they think it right for us?

Adding:

Can you imagine the Americans entrusting their trade negotiations to a body that comprised only 3.6 percent Americans? The idea is laughable.

Yes, indeed. The idea is laughable. It’s kind of like expecting the US to give up its own nuclear weapons –it is never going to happen.

Johnson has been calling the US position “hypocritical” for more than a week now. He strengthened his criticism in today’s article with further examples of the cost to Britain of staying in the EU. He also chose to mention Obama’s Kenyan father (Kenya was British colony until 1963) and by repeating the now refuted claim that Obama removed a bust of Winston Churchill from the Oval Office. But overreaching sophistry aside, Johnson does have a point.

So, why does the US want Britain to do something that it would never do itself?

Pres. Obama’s message to Britain today on its pending European Union exit referendum served up a predictable “Do as I say, not as I do” pattern, sprinkled with some vague threats, and topped off with even more predictable reminders of US war dead from two world wars.

You know that a US politician has emptied his rhetorical cannon when an allusion to Omaha Beach crowns his argument.

Here’s the real answer: Having Britain in the EU, extends America’s sphere of influence over the EU and Europe.  It has everything to do with maintenance of the Empire that American’s don’t think they have and nothing to do with democratic principles.

Pres. George W. Bush once referred to Australia as America’s “sheriff” in southeast Asia.

Britain in the EU, same thing.

Of course, if Britain divorced the EU, we’d still have Germany, France, Holland, Spain, Italy, Sweden, and probably all the other 28 members of the EU, except for maybe I dunno Greece.

But it’s probably easier for American civil officials to pantomime instructions to British civil servants, both linguistically and culturally, than it is for them to do the same thing with Latvian civil servants.

In fact, a Britain struggling to be free of the EU might also signal a Britain struggling to be free of American influence, and that could be seen as genuinely dangerous in Washington.

So, America also benefits when the Brits spend their days arguing with EU bureaucrats over how olive oil is served in restaurants because this distracts the Brits from oh well, I dunno, re-assembling history’s largest empire.

Before announcing the EU referendum, Conservative Prime Minister Cameron renegotiated Britain’s membership in the EU with EU bureaucrats. Britain’s new basis for membership in the EU answers many of the historic criticisms about the EU. Cameron himself is now in favor of remaining in the EU, although Cameron’s own party and Britain itself still remain divided on the issue. Opinion polls show the vote scheduled for  to be very close.

What is the Brexit all about?

Boris Johnson’s article in the Sun today has some frightening statistics on the number of regulations sent to Britain each year by the EU and the cost of EU membership to Britain. The video below offers a fairly non-partisan summary of the situation:

Here’s a more personal discussion of the Brexit or Bremain issue from BBC Newsnight:

Long-time Euro skeptic Nigel Farage, the leader of the UKIP party thought Obama’s comments were more geared to the president’s own personal future as a corporate consultant than US national policy. Here’s his take on Obama’s comments:

Here’s a long interview that Boris Johnson gave recently to the BBC on the so-called Brexit or Bremain.

President Obama’s media blitz today also included a joint press conference with David Cameron where Obama reiterated his earlier remarks:

We’ll know on June 23rd whether Britain leaves the EU reservation. Until then, maybe the US government can find a more compelling argument for why the Brits should stay in the EU.

For aNewDomain, I’m Tom Ewing.

Photo and Video Credits:

By William Allen Rogers; scanned by Bob Burkhardt (Harper’s Weekly, September 22, 1900, p. 881.) , via Wikimedia Commons

Boris Johnson in brief: https://youtu.be/CFyg8J2sdc8

Brexit video: Bloomberg Channel: https://youtu.be/KHpbu9mqFJs

BBC Newsnight: https://youtu.be/DLTBQyV4KJw

Nigel Farage on SkyNews: https://youtu.be/WYA7bQGbtiw

Boris Johnson BBC interview: https://youtu.be/-Ogg3msbAeA

Barack Obama: https://youtu.be/RaYucJk0jUY

About the author

Tom Ewing

Based in San Francisco, Tom Ewing leads our legal coverage here at aNewDomain.net. He also is a commercial lawyer specializing in intellectual property and the founder of avancept.com. IAM Magazine has named Tom one of the world’s top 250 IP strategists each year since 2009. Email him at Tom@aNewDomain.net. He's +Tom Ewing on Google+

2 Comments

  • Very interesting. I hadn’t thought of it this way. I will Share this around. Thanks. Ewing.

  • The comparison is inaccurate. The US is more analogous to the EU, not to Britain. Each US state has the same issues that Britain has, with the exception that they are firmly entrenched within the federal framework and can’t leave without triggering civil war. The main difference between the US and the EU is that the US was pretty much built from the inside out after its formation. Britain, and by extension the other EU nations, are more like the individual states that did indeed give up a lot of sovereignty in order to form what we know today as the United States of America.