by Brendan Brown
It is no surprise that President Obama has weighed into the Brexit referendum debate firmly on the side of the EU establishment. Nor is it surprising that the British PM Cameron should have given the opportunity to the president to threaten UK citizens that if they do not vote in favor of the establishment they will be punished by being put at the back of the queue for future trade deals with the US. The threat may indeed be empty, not least because the president will be out of office soon, but also because Washington could conclude a trade deal with the UK much more easily than with the EU. Thanks to French insistence on guaranteed safeguards for its agriculture and service sectors, as presently protected by tariffs and regulations, trade deals with the EU present many more roadblocks than deals with the UK alone.
Empty threat or not, President Obama, PM Cameron, and Chancellor Merkel, judging by their recent pronouncements and their long previous histories in office, all have a keen interest in the maintenance of the European status quo.