A Vote for Brexit Would Weaken U.K. Ties With U.S., Clegg Says

  • Former deputy PM: Britain would be less influential outside EU
  • Obama due in London on Friday to meet with Cameron and Queen

Nick Clegg.

Photographer: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

The U.K.’s ties with the U.S. would be weakened if voters opt to leave the European Union, former Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg will say in a speech intended to make the “patriotic case” for staying in the 28-nation bloc.

Britain’s ability to influence policies on trade, climate change, intelligence sharing and counter-terrorism is enhanced by membership of the EU, Clegg will say in a speech at Princeton University on Wednesday.

“If we choose to leave, we will be voting to diminish that position,” Clegg is due to say, according to extracts e-mailed by the Britain Stronger in Europe campaign group. “We will reduce our relationship with our near neighbors to one of semi-detachment, and in doing so make ourselves less influential, and therefore less valuable, as an ally to our American cousins.”

U.S. President Barack Obama is due in London on Friday for a state visit during which his office said he will, if asked, back Britain’s continued membership of the EU. With polls indicating the June 23 vote will be close, Prime Minister David Cameron is trying to shore up support for the “Remain” side.

“As the president has said, we support a strong United Kingdom in the European Union,” Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes said in an April 14 conference call. “His approach will be that if he’s asked his view as a friend, he will offer it.”

Clegg will cite statements supporting the status quo by Secretary of State John Kerry and U.S. Ambassador to Britain Matthew Barzun during his speech.

‘In fact, the only prominent American who has dissented from that view is Donald Trump,” Clegg will say. “The choice for any British voter who cares about American opinion couldn’t be clearer: Trump wants Britain out of the EU; President Obama wants us to stay in. I know whose side I, and I suspect millions of other Brits, would rather be on.”

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