The UK's referendum on its continued membership of the European Union has attracted the attention of leaders from around the world. It is striking that many of them, from the Chinese President to the Irish Prime Minister, who would not continence interference from foreigners on matters so intrinsic to the national sovereignty of their own nations have no compunction about offering their views on Brexit - a British exit from the European Union. The next in line to do this is US President Barack Obama. He is so keen to make clear his support for the emerging European Super State that he is coming all the way to the UK to help the Remain campaign of his pal David Cameron.
The support of the Chinese and the Irish leaders for Britain transferring more powers to unelected EU officials is understandable. One runs an authoritarian state whose communist party managed economy is under increasing pressure to liberalise or suffer significant downturn. The other runs a country that is utterly dependent on the largesse of the EU for its economic survival.
The reasons why President Obama is going the extra miles to support Remain is less easy to discern. Like it or not, Obama carries a certain influence. Obama breaks the mould of what a politician should be. He may not be a statesman nor a geopolitical thinking President (like Nixon or Clinton for example). His failure to even try to tackle some of the world's major diplomatic issues during his first seven years in office (in Africa or the Middle East) is evidence of this. Yet, Obama has some celebrity value and has an appeal especially to celebrity obsessed younger voters. Consequently, it is important that the Leave campaign rebuts his arguments about how Britain would be better off by transferring its rights to govern its own affairs to EU institutions and not his arguments go unopposed.
The reality is that not many Americans (apart from President Obama and those who believe in Big Government solutions to cross border challenges) and other non-EU nations understand what the European Union is all about. Many think it is a free trade area and a loose group of countries which is intended to promote continental cooperation. They don't understand that the EU is a political union and that northern European member-states have to pay billions to be a part of this club. They don't understand that the EU is developing its own army and that the Brussels EU elite wants to diminish the power of the nation-state and move to a federal, United States of Europe, model. They forget the loss of border controls that EU states expereince and the importance to the British people of the loss of freedom and democracy that goes with this change of governance.
Last month I visited the United States to make the case to key influencers and the US public about "Why Brexit is Good For America". I spoke to many members of congress, aides to presidential campaigns and sitting governors. People such as Governor Scott Walker and Senator Mike Lee, both of whom understand the positive impact that Brexit would have for America. I also spoke to hundreds of ordinary citizens and many supported the UK leaving the European Union. In fact, a common response to the Brexit briefing papers we were handing out was: "You (UK) should never have joined in the first place!".
Our principal arguments on why Brexit is good for America rested on four pillars:
1) If the UK leaves the EU, this will pave the way for a rapid bi-lateral free trade deal between the US and the UK, which many on both sides of the pond are interested in. The TTIP treaty currently going through the European Parliament is a bad deal and does not best fit the interests of the UK economy. Whilst we are in the EU, all trade deals have to be negotiated at an EU level. Let's leave and negotiate our trade deals once again.
2) NATO, the bed rock of transatlantic security is being undermined by EU policymakers who are developing an EU army. If the EU continues down this path its actions will undermine NATO in what is a very uncertain world.
3) Leaving the EU will allow for Britain to have a fair, ethical migration policy which treats non-EU citizens equally to EU citizen who want to migrate to the UK. For far too long, American citizens have been classed as 'second class citizens' with respect to British immigration policy. Brexit will allow Britain to control her borders and have a migration policy which is fit for the demands of the 21st century.
4) Britain is the USA's strongest ally. A strong, independent, democratic Britain on the world stage better serves the interests of an oil independent America and the Anglosphere. As continental European nations centralise and pool their powers, Britain's influence on the world stage diminishes as long as she remains a member of the EU.
So my message to Obama is clear: don't try to speak on behalf of ALL the American people on the issue of Britain's membership of the EU. Like many members of the international ruling establishment you have your view of big government solutions but many in the United States see the advantages for America from being able to form a partnership with a Britain which is based on it being an independent nation state.