To Brexit or not to Brexit: British exceptionalism doesn’t allow any Obama telling Brits what to do

David Cameron in Brussels at the Roundtable of Heads of State or Government with Turkish Prime Minister on 17/03/2016.

Barack Obama visited the UK last week clearly in an attempt to boost the “Remain” campaign urging Britain to stay within the EU. This move has not yet been exactly measured as beneficial or not for David Cameron’s campaign but has certainly caused several reactions to the British voters about two months before the referendum.

The polls are showing that the Remain campaign is still leading the course by 51% while the “Leave” receives 46% while turnout is also taken into consideration. Two of the main factors that influence the opinion of the UK voters is the national economy and the immigration system. The statistics of the first quarter GDP growth will be published today whereas the migration ones will be revealed next month.

Theresa May, mentioned during last Monday on BBC that UK should stay in the EU but not in the European Convention for Human Rights (ECHR). The Home Secretary also stated that UK has control of its borders and a possible Brexit will not solve all migration problems.

U.S. wants Britain to Stay

The president of the United States (US) made his visit to the UK by targeting to the hearts and minds of the British voters. Firstly, Barack Obama advised UK as a “friend” and “ally” to stay within the EU in order to be better and more secure tackling immigration issues and possible terrorist attacks. More in detail, the US President stated that: “The Unites States, the United Kingdom and the EU have turned centuries of war in Europe into decades of peace, and worked as one to make this world a safer, better place. What a remarkable legacy that is. And what a remarkable legacy we will leave when, together, we meet the challenges of this young century as well.”

Secondly, the logic why the UK should stay in the EU focuses on the growth of its national economy. Barack Obama made it clear that if the UK leaves the EU then the country will be more vulnerable to economic shocks and business deals will not be signed between the U.S. and UK. More specifically, the President of the US pointed that: “Britain would go on the back of the queue of trade deals if it votes for Brexit. Today, we face tests to this order — terrorism and aggression; migration and economic headwinds — challenges that can only be met if the United States and the United Kingdom can rely on one another, on our special relationship, and on the partnerships that lead to progress.”

Remain vs. Leave campaign

The latest ORB poll for the Telegraph reveals a small but clear precedence of David Cameron’s campaign. The moment undecided voters or voters that are likely to change their minds are increasing, all outcomes are still open. Half of the voters questioned argue that UK’s immigration system will be improved if Britain leaves the EU. On the other hand, almost one out of two voters (48%) believe that their economy will be stronger if the UK decides to stay in the EU. These two main factors and their statistics although contradicting will surely affect the hearts and minds of the British citizens.

But in what way exactly? The “Leave” campaigners are supporting that immigration will only be solved through a Brexit. Especially, Michael Gove, the justice secretary and Iain Duncan Smith, former work and pensions secretary, mentioned that the only way to tackle migration crisis in the UK is through an EU exit. The latter said on Radio 4’s programme: “You cannot reject anybody unless you can demonstrate categorically that they pose an immediate threat to the life and livelihood of the UK. The reality is that we have to accept people, even criminals. There are a number of cases of people who have got criminal records, then come over here and commit crimes, and we can’t even get rid of them without permission of the European court of justice.”

Cameron looks for alternatives

Theresa May stressed out during her speech two days ago that border control and migrationpolicy are two different things leading to her syllogism that the UK must stay within the EU but leave the ECHR, which is an international treaty that was formed in order to protect human rights and fundamental freedoms in Europe. Thus, anyone who feels that his or her rights are violated under that Convention can take the case to the Court.

David Cameron supported May’s sayings on migration showing that there is a unity in the “Remain” side. It seems that the Prime Minster of the UK is trying to find ways to persuade voters that immigration will be managed effectively if Britain’s vote in the referendum of June 23 will be to stay in the EU. Besides, immigration is definitely one of the thorns for the “Remain” supporters.

3 opportunities to influence voter’s opinion

Even if the three-day visit of the US president in the UK has caused contradicting reactions to the voters since Barack Obama urged them to vote in favor of Britain’s stay in the EU, it is not yet certain whether this support will have a positive result for David Cameron and its supporters. Not to forget here surely the strong British exceptionalism sentiment that has been feeding the referendum’s existence and the Leave campaign for decades. It is therefore anticipated that the Brits don’t appreciate so much to have others tell them what to do.

Further, the immigration statistics that will be published next month will contain details on the number of the EU migrants paying tax and claiming benefits in the UK. These figures are high likely to influence the opinion of some of the voters who have not yet decided which side they are on.

Last but not least, the growth of UK’s economy is also going to affect people. Just today, the GDP figures for the first quarter are about to be published and it remains to be seen whether the referendum risk is indeed slowing the national economy down.

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