British voters chose to “leave” the European Union on Thursday, defying the polls — and President Barack Obama, who had urged Britain to “remain” in the EU.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had also urged Britain to stay in the EU. Only Donald Trump had backed the campaign to leave.
Republican strategists had panned Trump’s decision to travel to the UK in the midst of campaign turmoil, and in the wake of his blistering attack on Hillary Clinton earlier this week.
Now, however, it looks like a risk that paid off handsomely, in the currency of foreign policy credibility.
Obama’s advice may have pushed some voters to “leave.” In April, he warned British voters they would be at the “back of the queue” in trade with the U.S. if they left the EU. Some, like Andrew Roberts, took offense, writing in the Wall Street Journal:
Surely—surely—this is an issue on which the British people, and they alone, have the right to decide, without the intervention of President Obama, who adopted his haughtiest professorial manner when lecturing us to stay in the EU, before making the naked threat that we would be sent “to the back of the queue” (i.e., the back of the line) in any future trade deals if we had the temerity to vote to leave.
Was my country at the back of the line when Winston Churchill promised in 1941 that in the event of a Japanese attack on the U.S., a British declaration of war on Japan would be made within the hour?