The odds on Britain staying in the EU have shortened after the US President warned that, if it chooses Brexit, the UK will go to the back of the queue for trade deals with the US. Max Liu reports...
- Remain 1.384/11 (72%)
- Leave 3.55 (28%)
The odds on Britain voting to stay in the European Union have narrowed to 1.384/11 (a 72% chance) since Barack Obama gave his backing to the Remain campaign.
Speaking in London this week, the American president warned that Brexit would put the UK at the back of the queue for a trade deal with the US. The statement was seen as a hammer-blow to the outers and sent shockwaves through the campaign, meaning Leave is now trading at 3.55.
David Cameron had been hoping that Obama's intervention would be a big boost for his campaign to keep Britain in the EU and, so far, it looks like he's got his wish. All this week, which began badly for Leave when George Osborne said taxes would rise for Brits outside the EU and a ComRes poll put Remain 11 points ahead, the argument raged.
As the leader of Britain's closest ally, is it okay for Obama to get involved in the Brexit debate? Or is it, as argued by 100 MPs who signed a letter demanding that he keep his views to himself, undemocratic for the leader of a foreign country to try to influence British affairs?
Obama believes EU membership makes Britain "even greater", better able to sustain a strong economy, tackle terrorism and climate change. But anti-EU campaigners reacted angrily, calling Obama a "lame duck president", accusing him of "wanton double standards", arguing that the US would never sign up to a union that placed the kind of limitations on its sovereignty that the EU places on Britain.
Labour Brexiter Kate Hoey called Obama's intervention "insulting, patronising and hypocritical," while Boris Johnson said Obama was guilty of "a breathtaking example of the principle of do-as-I-say-but-not-as-I-do." Writing in the Sun, the Mayor of London even claimed that the "part-Kenyan president" might have an "ancestral dislike" of Britain. There's no way Johnson, who's 3.65 favourite to be the next leader of the Conservative party, would have said this if Obama were not leaving office next year.
On Friday, Obama stated his opposition to Leave in no uncertain terms. By saying Britain would go to the back of the queue for trade deals with the US, he destroyed a central plank of the outers' argument - that, if it chooses Brexit, Britain will have more trade opportunities around the world and therefore be better off.
Has Obama helped Remain? More interventions from foreign leaders, including Angela Merkel and Francois Hollande, are apparently on the way, and Cameron is assembling an arsenal of influential institutions, such as the IMF, to emphasise the dangers of Brexit. But there's no doubt that Obama's view is the big one.
Seven-and-a-half years after he swept to power, Obama is as popular as ever in the UK and is said to enjoy a 76% approval rating among Britons. They trust him and, although there's the vague possibility of a backlash against what some commentators are calling Obama's arrogance, his statements in support of Remain could well influence the outcome on June 23.
The Leave campaign need to come up with something fast, if they're to stop this debate from running away from them.
Obama warns UK will go to the "back of the queue"