During his final visit to England as president, London Mayor Boris Johnson hammered President Obama for his opposition to the United Kingdom potentially leaving the European Union.
In an op-ed, Johnson hinted that Obama’s background and vales are at odds with those of the British people, going so far as to call the president “part-Kenyan.”
Boris Johnson, a Conservative who has been mayor of London since 2008, attacked Obama in a piece for The Sun published Friday for supporting the British government’s position against a so-called Brexit. Johnson recalled an oft-repeated (and debunked) story about Obama returning the bust of Winston Churchill to the British embassy in Washington upon taking office.
“No one was sure whether the President had himself been involved in the decision. Some said it was a snub to Britain. Some said it was a symbol of the part-Kenyan President’s ancestral dislike of the British empire — of which Churchill had been such a fervent defender,” Johnson wrote. “Some said that perhaps Churchill was seen as less important than he once was. Perhaps his ideas were old-fashioned and out of date.”
In 2012, Obama aide Dan Pfeiffer penned a blog post for the White House in which he called reports to that effect “100% false,” writing, “The bust still in the White House. In the Residence. Outside the Treaty Room.”
On Thursday, Obama published an op-ed in The Telegraph urging Britons to refuse Brexit ahead of his Friday meeting with Queen Elizabeth II and news conference with Prime Minister David Cameron. “This kind of cooperation — from intelligence sharing and counterterrorism to forging agreements to create jobs and economic growth — will be far more effective if it extends across Europe. Now is a time for friends and allies to stick together,” Obama wrote.
Johnson, a skeptic of the EU whose decision to back Brexit has roiled British politics, remarked that the United States “would not dream of embroiling itself in anything of the kind.”
“The US guards its democracy with more hysterical jealousy than any other country on earth,” he wrote, noting that the U.S. is the only nation to have not signed onto two separate United Nations conventions, on children’s rights and women’s emancipation.
“For the United States to tell us in the UK that we must surrender control of so much of our democracy — it is a breathtaking example of the principle of do-as-I-say-but-not-as-I-do,” Johnson wrote. “It is incoherent. It is inconsistent, and yes it is downright hypocritical. The Americans would never contemplate anything like the EU, for themselves or for their neighbours in their own hemisphere. Why should they think it right for us?”
In concluding his piece, Johnson invoked the “spirit of the early Obama,” writing “yes we can” when it comes to taking “back control of our borders and our money and our system of government,” standing “on our own two feet, building “a new and prosperous relationship with the rest of the EU, based on free trade and intergovernmental cooperation,” speaking “up for the hundreds of millions around the continent who also feel estranged from the Brussels project,” and once again become “once again be the champions of democracy.”
“And by doing all those we can thrive as never before — and therefore be even better and more valuable allies of the United States,” Johnson wrote.
What is your reaction to London’s mayor’s comments about Obama’s alleged Kenyan heritage? Was it appropriate or did he go too far? Share your thoughts below!