The Obama administration reportedly plans to weigh in even more heavily than it has already done against passage of a British referendum to leave the European Union. At Bloomberg, I argue this is a bad idea.
Support for deeper British involvement in a more and more united Europe has been a bipartisan American policy since the early days of the Cold War. But it is time for us to back off. The British do not need the U.S. government’s advice on how to vote on their referendum. Moreover, the case that their staying in the EU advances U.S. interests is weak.
While writing the article, I looked into the question of where Senator Bob Corker, the Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, stands on this issue. A Guardian story about a committee hearing earlier this month created the impression that Corker wanted the administration to fight Brexit and was trying to figure out the best way for it to do that.
Corker, saying America’s problems paled in comparison with the EU, openly discussed with witnesses the best way for Obama to pitch his appeal to British voters. “I know the president is planning to make a pretty big public reach-out in this regard,” he said, adding: “how do you think the people of the UK will respond to us at the highest level embracing this?”
The relevant exchange happens around the 46-minute mark here. It seems to me that Corker is expressing skepticism about the wisdom of our government’s getting involved in this debate, not trying to help Obama craft the right message. That skepticism seems to me, for reasons I lay out in the Bloomberg article, amply warranted.