State Dept. insists Brexit won't hurt relations with UK, EU

State Dept. insists Brexit won't hurt relations with UK, EU
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The Obama administration is insisting that Great Britain’s stunning vote to withdraw from the European Union won’t diminish the U.S. relationship with either.

Months after President Obama lobbied the British public against leaving the EU, the State Department on Friday maintained that little would change.     

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“The special relationship remains a special relationship,” spokesman John Kirby said, referring to the phrase used to characterize the U.S.’s ties with the United Kingdom.

“We’re confident that no matter what the implications are of this vote, that the relationship between the United States and the U.K. will remain as strong as ever.

Kirby added that the relationship with the EU “will remain very strong indeed.”

“We’re going to work closely with the U.K. and the EU as they work their way through what this decision means,” Kirby said. “But we fundamentally do not see any change to the U.S.-U.K. special relationship as a result of this.”

In April, Obama warned against the trade implications for the U.K. if the people voted to leave the European Union.

“The U.K. is going to be in the back of the queue,” Obama said in London. “Not because we don’t have a special relationship, but because given the heavy lift on any trade agreement, us having access to a big market with a lot of countries rather than trying to do piecemeal trade agreements is hugely inefficient.”

Details remain scarce about how the U.K. will extricate itself from the EU, given the complex web of legal, regulatory and economic ties between the two. London will have two years to sort out its exit, which will likely impact the U.S.’s effort to finalize a trade deal with Europe. 

“We will consider how the U.K., as it negotiates with the EU, fits into our strategy of how we pursue broad trade platforms,” Kirby said on Friday afternoon.

“Will there be changes as result of this? There very may well may be,” he added.

“This will be a fairly lengthy process. I don’t know how long it’s going to take, but we recognize that this isn’t going to happen immediately,” Kirby said. “So now begins conversations … about how to manage this.”