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  1. ITV Report

Obama: Brexit would damage UK's influence around the world

Barack Obama has warned that Britain's influence on the global stage would be diminished if it votes to leave the EU.

The US President said while cooperation between British and US intelligence agencies would not be affected by an 'out' vote in the referendum on June 23, it would affect the country's global standing.

Barack Obama spoke to the BBC Credit: BBC

Speaking to the BBC, Mr Obama said:

Our intelligence teams work extremely closely, our militaries work extremely closely together. That cooperation is not going to be changed.

What we do believe is that the United Kingdom would have less influence in Europe and as a consequence, less influence globally.

We rely heavily on the UK as a partner globally on a whole range of issues - we like you having more influence.

– Barack Obama

He also hit back at critics who accused him of threatening to put the UK "at the back of the queue" for a trade deal with the US if the country votes to leave the EU.

Barack Obama spoke to the BBC Credit: BBC

He said he had simply been addressing the "practical" problems of assuming America would fast-track a deal with the UK.

Mr Obama said it could take up to a decade for a US-UK deal to be negotiated - despite the 'special relationship'.

There are emotional and cultural and commercial and strategic between our two countries that are unmatched by any two countries around the world.

As a practical matter, what we're doing in respect to trade is negotiating with big blocks of countries because negotiating trade deals are a heavy lift. It's challenging, it's difficult.

We wouldn't abandon our efforts to negotiate a trade deal with our largest trading partner, the European market, but rather it could be five years from now, 10 years from now, before we were able to get something done [with the UK].

– US President Barack Obama

He added: "If I am a business person, or a worker in Britain, and I'm looking at the fact that I already have access seamlessly with a massive market - one of the wealthiest markets in the world, which accounts for 44 per cent of my exports - the idea that I'm going to be in a better position to export and trade by being outside of that market and not being in the room setting the rules and standards by which trade takes place, I think is erroneous."

Credit: Reuters

During the interview, Mr Obama criticised the idea that by cutting itself off from Europe, the UK could solve all its problems.

"Whether you like it or not, we are in an interconnected world. This relates to Brexit, this relates to Nato, this relates to the migration crisis, it relates to our counter-terrorism effort, it relates to public health issues like Ebola," he said.

"It's a problem in the United States - people talk about immigration from places like Mexico.

"It would be tempting for a lot of people to believe that we can pull up the drawbridge. That we can carve a moat around ourselves and not have to deal with problems around the world."

He said he hoped his view would help persuade some voters to choose to remain within the EU.

If the countries that are closest to you, who care about you the most, the countries with whom you cooperate with most frequently, those whom you have a special relationship with, are suggesting to you that you might be better off staying in this relationship with Europe - it's worth paying attention.

– US President Barack Obama

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