U.S. President Barack Obama on Friday said the United States’ relationship with both the United Kingdom and the European Union would endure in the wake of Britain’s decision to leave the Brexit referendum.
“The people of the United Kingdom have spoken, and we respect their decision,” Obama said in a statement.
“The United Kingdom and the European Union will remain indispensable partners of the United States even as they begin negotiating their ongoing relationship,” Obama added.
Britain’s decision to leave the EU has forced the resignation of Prime Minister David Cameron and dealt the biggest blow to the European project of greater unity since World War Two.
The decision was met with watchful acceptance by U.S. officials even as it rattled Wall Street and other markets around the world. U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, travelling in Ireland, said the United States would have preferred that Britain had voted to remain in the European Union, but respected the result.
“I must say we had looked for a different outcome. We would have preferred a different outcome … but the United States has a long-standing friendship with the United Kingdom and that very special bond will endure,” he said in a speech in Dublin. Obama, during a visit to London in April, had argued passionately against Brexit.
He had travelled to London at the request of Cameron, whom he calls a friend, exhorting Britons to stay in the EU. The unusual intervention was denounced as meddling by those campaigning for the country to leave the EU.
Obama has said his involvement was justified because of the two countries’ longstanding special relationship. He also had warned that leaving the EU would put Britain at the “back of the queue” for a trade deal with the United States.
His former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic presidential candidate in the Nov. 8 election, had also said she hoped the UK would stay in the EU.
In response to Britain’s decision to leave, Clinton said the United States must first safeguard against any economic fallout at home at “this time of uncertainty” and underscore its commitment to both Britain and Europe.The presumptive Republican nominee – real estate magnate Donald Trump – had taken the opposite stance.
Trump, in Scotland on Friday to reopen a golf resort, said Obama was partly to blame for the British outcome. He praised Britons who he said “took back control of their country” by voting to leave the European Union.In Congress, Republican lawmakers, who control both the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate, vowed U.S.-Britain ties would remain close.
“The UK is an indispensable ally of the United States, and that special relationship is unaffected by this vote,” said House Speaker Paul Ryan, the top elected U.S. Republican.
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker said lawmakers would continue to work with Britain on trade and security.