Sounding like a friend who wants to assure both sides of a splitting couple that he won't play favorites, President Barack Obama said the U.S. and U.K.'s "special relationship" will endure after the Brexit vote, while praising the European Union for promoting stability in the world.
After citizens of the U.K. voted to depart from the EU, Obama spoke on behalf of the U.S. in saying "we respect their decision."
"The United Kingdom and the European Union will remain indispensable partners of the United States," Obama said, "even as they begin negotiating their ongoing relationship to ensure continued stability, security, and prosperity for Europe, Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the world."
Obama drew the ire of some commentators and voters in the U.K. by appearing to inject himself into the Brexit debate, and by issuing dire warnings about the future of the trade relationship between the U.S. and U.K. if the latter chose to depart the EU.
"Someone who believes his political personality can reverse global warming will have no doubts about his ability to persuade the British people to stay in the European Union," The Spectator's Tim Montgomerie wrote in a scathing editorial. "Just a few of his mellifluous sentences and a flash of those teeth and surely the British people will go weak at the knees!"
Meanwhile, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump was in Scotland visiting one of his resorts when U.K. citizens went to the polls. Trump praised the result, saying voters "took back their country."
Much of the Brexit debate revolved around the flood of refugees coming into the EU from war-torn countries like Syria, with many advocating for a departure from the EU so the U.K. could fully control its own borders and immigration policies. Those concerns mirror American concerns about illegal immigration, a cornerstone of Trump's campaign.
“People want to take their country back, they want to have independence in a sense, and you see it with Europe, all over Europe, and you’re going to have more than just -- in my opinion -- more than just what happened last night,” Mr. Trump said, according to Tthe New York Times. “You’re going to have many other cases where people want to take their borders back, they want to take their monetary back, they want to take a lot of things back -- they want to be able to have a country again.”
His opponent, presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, sent several tweets predicting hard times after the Brexit vote. She said the priority should be making sure "the economic uncertainty created by these events does not hurt working families," suggesting the vote's ramifications could lead to economic hardship for America's poor.
"This time of uncertainty," Clinton tweeted, "only underscores the need for calm, steady, experienced leadership in the White House."