Obama, Cameron meet as Britain debates European Union exit

CCTV News

Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron, right, shakes hands with US President Barack Obama, during the president's visit to 10 Downing Street for bilateral talks, in London, Friday, April 22, 2016. Lending political backup to a struggling friend, President Barack Obama made an impassioned plea to Britons to heed Prime Minister David Cameron's call to stay in the European Union and dismissed critics who accused the U.S. president of meddling in British affairs. (Ben Gurr/Pool Photo via AP) Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron, right, shakes hands with US President Barack Obama, during the president’s visit to 10 Downing Street for bilateral talks, in London, Friday, April 22, 2016. Lending political backup to a struggling friend, President Barack Obama made an impassioned plea to Britons to heed Prime Minister David Cameron’s call to stay in the European Union and dismissed critics who accused the U.S. president of meddling in British affairs. (Ben Gurr/Pool Photo via AP)

Lending political backup to a struggling friend, President Barack Obama made a forceful plea Friday for Britons to heed Prime Minister David Cameron’s call to stay in the European Union. He also dismissed critics who accused the him of meddling in British affairs.

CCTV’s Richard Bestic filed this report from London.

Obama, Cameron meet as Britain debates European Union exit

Obama, Cameron meet as Britain debates European Union exit

President Barack Obama made a forceful plea Friday for Britons to heed Prime Minister David Cameron’s call to stay in the European Union. He also dismissed critics who accused the him of meddling in British affairs.

Standing with Cameron at a news conference at 10 Downing Street, Obama said Britain’s power is amplified by its membership in the 28-nation E.U., not diminished. He delivered an almost sentimental appeal to the “special relationship” between the two countries and cast a grim picture of the economic stakes, saying flatly the U.S. would not rush to write a free trade deal with Great Britain if it voted to exit.

“Let me be clear, ultimately, this is something the British voters have to decide for themselves. But as part of our special relationship, part of being friends, is to be honest and to let you know what I think,” Obama said. “And speaking honestly, the outcome of that decision is a matter of deep interest to the United States, because it affects our prospects as well. The United States wants a strong United Kingdom as a partner, and the United Kingdom is at its best when it’s helping to lead a strong Europe.”

Obama spoke on the first day of a three-day visit to London, likely the last of this presidency. Coming two months before a June referendum on leaving the union, Obama plunged himself into heated debate about Britain’s national identity, immigration policy, economic fairness and the trust in institutions.

Polls suggest it will be a close vote, with most phone polls indicating a lead to remain in the union while some online polls put the other side ahead.

Story from the Associated Press.