London Mayor Chides Obama

London Mayor Chides Obama
by JBS President Emeritus John F. McManus

Left-to-right: Lord Coe, Boris Johnson, David Cameron – World Economic Forum Annual Meeting (image by World Economic Forum Flickr account, some rights reserved).

Boris Johnson is London’s mayor. He also holds membership in Britain’s Conservative political party, just like Prime Minister David Cameron who is his friend. But the two couldn’t be farther apart about the upcoming June 23rd national referendum. Will the people side with their Prime Minster and stay in the 28-nation European Union? Or will they vote to quit the EU as Johnson urges?

During Barack Obama’s recent visit to England, he managed to anger many Britons by siding with the Cameron position. Because he is an outsider, many think he should have minded his own business. Mayor Johnson quickly responded to the Obama meddling, saying that testimonials on the matter from “American presidents” are unwelcome. Obama’s statement included the following assertion: “If one of our best friends is in an organization that enhances their influence, and enhances their power, and enhances their economy, then I want them to stay in it.” Many doubt that assessment of England’s EU membership. He even suggested that a “No” vote on the referendum by British voters would place them “in the back of the queue” regarding trade deals between Britain and the United States. That got some Brits downright angry.

Johnson took the opportunity presented him by the U.S. president’s comments to list some of the reasons why British voters should want out of the EU. He pointed out that “the Euro [financial] crisis is far from over and the EU remains a gigantic engine of job destruction.” He reminded his countrymen about the promise that England “wouldn’t have to pay for the Greek bailouts” but when the need for such a financial rescue arose, “we did [pay for them].” He scorched the EU Commission’s plan to insert “a new European approach to company law, to property rights, to every aspect of employment law.” He even noted, “the EU has removed a democratically elected government – in both Italy and Greece – and installed Brussels-approved technocrats.” And he feared that such action by the EU “technocrats” would be repeated in England.

As for possible intimidation by Mr. Obama and Britain’s “business leaders, fat cats of every description,” Johnson said that it wouldn’t work because the British people were not about ”to file meekly to the polls and consent to stay in the EU that was costing them the tidy sum of “350 pounds a week.” (The British have never discarded their British pound for the Euro and still rely of the pound.) And he urged his countrymen to realize that the EU court has been “adjudicating on UK criminal law,” that “immigrants should have a job offer before entering the UK,” and that “social and employment legislation should be left to national control.”

Boris Johnson and David Cameron have maintained friendly relations for many years. But Johnson is widely suspected of angling for the post now held by his friend. Should the British people vote to leave the EU, Johnson’s stature would rise and possibly take him all the way to #10 Downing Street. Because many British voters, like voters in any country, don’t like outsiders meddling in their nation’s affairs, the comments issued by Barack Obama may have created an easier path for Johnson to become Prime Minster than existed previously. The choice Britons will make on June 23rd has even more riding on it than staying in or exiting the EU.

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McManus_2Mr. McManus served in the U.S. Marine Corps in the late 1950s and joined the staff of The John Birch Society in August 1966. He has served various roles for the organization including Field Coordinator, Director of Public Affairs, and President. Mr. McManus has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs and is also author of a number of educational DVDs and books. Now President Emeritus, he continues his involvement with the Society through public speaking and writing for this blog, the JBS Bulletin, and The New American.

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