By KEVIN FREKING
(WASHINGTON, AP) — President Barack Obama isn’t expecting “major, cataclysmic changes” as a result of Britain’s pending exit from the European Union.
Speaking to NPR, Obama also said there are more differences than similarities when it comes to Britain’s election compared with the current presidential election in the United States, where discontent has fueled Republican Donald Trump’s rise.
Obama said Europe hasn’t fared as well as the United States since the financial crisis that struck in 2008, and there was some belief that the European Union was moving too fast and without as much consensus as it should.
“I think that the best way to think about this is, a pause button has been pressed on the project of full European integration,” Obama said in the interview, parts of which aired Tuesday. “I would not overstate it. There’s been a little bit of hysteria post-Brexit vote, as if somehow NATO’s gone, the trans-Atlantic alliance is dissolving and every country is rushing off to its own corner. That’s not what’s happening.”
Obama acknowledged some similarities between Britain’s election and the presidential election in the U.S. He says some have been able to tap into fear that people may have about losing control and to offer “vague, nostalgic feelings about how, you know, we’ll make Britain great again, or we’ll make America great again.”
But Obama said he didn’t believe Trump was “a legitimate spokesperson for a populist surge from working class people on either side of the Atlantic.”
Nor does Obama believe the country is ready for the kind of change Trump would bring about. Citing a recent poll showing that a significant majority of voters viewed Trump as unqualified to be president, Obama said it’s hard to argue the presumptive GOP nominee is speaking for a broad base of the country.
“But we’ll find out,” Obama said.