EXCL Barack Obama's 'back of the queue' trip to Britain cost police £1.6m

Posted On: 
16th March 2017

Barack Obama’s trip in which he warned Britain would be "at the back of the queue" for a post-Brexit trade deal with America cost police more than £1.6m, PoliticsHome can reveal.

David Cameron and Barack Obama when the then-US president visited the UK in April 2016
Credit: 
PA Images

The then-US president delivered the stark warning during a four-day trip to the UK last April, in the heat of the the EU referendum campaign.

Mr Obama's intervention angered Brexit supporters at the time but left Downing Street and the Remain camp beaming. 

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According to details released by the Metropolitan Police under Freedom of Information laws, the force spent £1,668,650 deploying 4,268 officers to police the visit.

A top Tory MP blasted the “completely unjustified” sum of money for a “political stunt” he argued backfired.

Tory MP Peter Bone, who set up the Grassroots Out campaign for Brexit, told PoliticsHome it was “an extraordinary amount of money to be spent on frontline policing for a political stunt”.

“I think Londoners will be pretty annoyed that instead of going out and catching criminals and deterring crime, police were being involved in what was clearly a political stunt," he said.

“It’s quite an amazing sum of money. Most people will think that was completely unjustified.”

He added that the intervention - which occurred before the purdah period restricting the Government from using its resources for campaigning - was “not within the spirit of a fair and balanced referendum”.

“In the end it backfired because people saw through it. Not only was it hugely costly and a waste of money, it backfired for them as well,” he said.

Mr Obama’s trip would also have cost central Government - which forks out for transport and entertainment when a foreign dignitary visits the UK.

For example a 2015 visit from Chinese premier Xi Jinping cost the Foreign Office £1.4m, PoliticsHome revealed earlier this year.

But the Foreign Office refused to publish costs of Mr Obama’s trip since, a source explained, it was “short stop in the UK on a multi-destination trip” rather than a state visit.