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President Obama: Brexit is far from ideal, but the “special relationship” lives on

Mark Wilson/Getty Images

It’s not ideal, but life goes on. That was the gist of President Barack Obama’s statement on the Brexit referendum Friday morning, after the British people narrowly voted to leave the European Union.

"The people of the United Kingdom have spoken, and we respect their decision," Obama said in a statement. He continued to insist the United States’ "special relationship" with the United Kingdom and European Union will remain unchanged:

The special relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom is enduring, and the United Kingdom’s membership in NATO remains a vital cornerstone of US foreign, security, and economic policy. So too is our relationship with the European Union, which has done so much to promote stability, stimulate economic growth, and foster the spread of democratic values and ideals across the continent and beyond.

The United Kingdom and the European Union will remain indispensable partners of the United States 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.

In the months leading up to the Brexit vote, Obama made clear he believed the United Kingdom should stay in the European Union, speaking to the British public after a meeting with David Cameron, in April.

"The United Kingdom is at its best when it is helping to lead a strong Europe. It leverages UK power to be part of the European Union," Obama said.

"I think there is a British poet who said: 'No man is an island' — even an island as beautiful as this," he added, quoting John Donne.