Although Donald Trump had been rooting for Britain to leave the European Union well before the Brexit decision on Friday morning, some Republicans joined him in taking an affirmative stance on the issue — but only after the vote actually happened.
Otherwise, it appears that Trump was the only member of the GOP who actively supported the Brexit before the vote.
As President Obama and Hillary Clinton both voiced their support of the Remain camp prior to the vote on Thursday, most Republicans in Congress had only advocated for the U.S. to stay out of the debate earlier this week.
A group of Republican politicians — including Senators Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, and Jeff Sessions, and Rep. George Holding and Rep. Mike Kelly — sent a letter to Obama earlier this week urging the president to avoid publicizing his views on the Brexit vote. (Obama didn’t listen.)
“Regardless of the outcome of the referendum, citizens of the United Kingdom should know that we will continue to regard our relations with the United Kingdom as a central factor in the foreign, security, and trading policies of the United States,” they wrote, according to CNN.
While they didn’t reveal their own stance on the Brexit, the Republicans’ letter did note that the vote “may open new opportunities for cooperation for our British friends and allies.”
Yet after the vote actually took place, both Cruz and Sessions made their support of the Leave campaign public, suggesting that their opposition to Obama taking a stance could have been more politically motivated than they let on.
“The people spoke from their hearts and with conviction,” Sessions said in a statement, according to the Washington Post. “They considered deep and critical issues never discussed by the international elites. Their strong vote arose not out of fear and pique but out of love for country and pride of place.”
For his part, Cruz touched on the worrisome parallels between the Leave campaign and Trump’s presidential candidacy.
“The United States can learn from the referendum and attend to the issues of security, immigration, and economic autonomy that drove this historic vote,” he wrote in a Facebook post.
Former Senator Jim DeMint also joined in congratulating Britain on the vote, even posting a photo of a full English breakfast on Twitter to “celebrate freedom.”
— Jim DeMint (@JimDeMint) June 24, 2016
Photo: Senator Jeff Sessions speaks next to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump at a rally at Madison City Schools Stadium in Madison, Alabama February 28, 2016. REUTERS/Marvin Gentry