The Financial Times’ Sebastian Payne likened President Obama’s intervention in the Brexit debate to a Trident missile aimed at the Leave campaign. And Leave supporters have certainly been angry. Writing for CapX the historian Andrew Roberts argued that Mr Obama had, unlike a host of his predecessors, turned his back on supporting nations that yearn for self-determination. For others Mr Obama had turned his back on the special US-UK relationship with his suggestion that if Britain left the EU, it risked going to the “back of the queue” in trade talks:
“I think it’s fair to say that maybe some point down the line there might be a UK-US trade agreement, but it’s not going to happen any time soon because our focus is in negotiating with a big bloc, the European Union, to get a trade agreement done… The UK is going to be in the back of the queue.”
We asked YouGov’s First Verdict panel of US voters (methodology here) if they agreed that Britain could not expect special treatment. By two-to-one they disagreed, with 59% voting for “our two nations have always had a special relationship and America should never put Britain at the back of the line”. 28% said “Britain cannot expect to be treated more favourably than other nations wanting a trade agreement with the United States”.
It seems that if the specialness of the US-UK relationship is in some doubt in the White House, should Britain vote to “Leave”, most of the American people have a higher regard for it.
Asked in another question to identify America’s closest ally, Britain received 55% of the votes while the runner up, Canada, scored 16%;
For more about Portrait of America and the methodology behind First Verdict, click here.
A YouGov poll of British voters, meanwhile, suggested that – if anything – President Obama’s intervention could backfire. 41% were annoyed or angered by what he said but only 25% were pleased or inspired:
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