Soros: Very. I am convinced that Britain should stay in Europe not only for economic but even more for political reasons. An EU without the UK would be a much weaker union.
Schmitz: But surveys show a British majority for a Brexit, or British exit from the EU.
Soros: The campaign for the Brexit has deliberately misled the public. Currently, Britain has the best of all possible deals with Europe. It has access to the common market where nearly half of UK exports go while it is not weighed down by the burden of having joined the eurozone.
Schmitz: Why is the British business community not more vocal about the disadvantages of a Brexit?
Soros: The managements of the multinational corporations that have built up their manufacturing capacity in Britain as a springboard into the common market are reluctant to say that they oppose a Brexit publicly because they don’t want to get embroiled in a political debate where their customers have divergent views. But ask them privately, as I did, and they will readily confirm it.
The Brexit campaign has tried to convince the British public that it is safer to stay out of the common market than to be part of it. The campaign had the field to itself because the government wanted to give the impression that it is holding out for the best deal.
Schmitz: Many criticize US President Barack Obama for being too weak toward Russia.
Soros: Rightly so. Putin is a supreme tactician who entered the Syrian conflict because he saw an opportunity to improve Russia’s standing in the world. He was ready to keep pushing until he encountered serious resistance. President Obama should have challenged him earlier. If Obama had declared a no-fly zone over Syria when Russia started to supply military equipment on a large scale, Russia would have been obliged to respect it. But Obama was eager to avoid any chance of a direct military confrontation with Russia. So Russia installed antiaircraft missiles and the US had to share control of the skies over Syria with Russia. You could almost say that by shooting down a Russian fighter jet, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan did Obama a favor. Putin had to recognize that his military adventure had run into serious opposition and he now seems ready for a political solution. That is promising.
There is also ISIS and the terrorist attacks that threaten to undermine the values and principles of our civilization. The terrorists want to convince Muslim youth that there is no alternative to terrorism, and if we listen to the likes of Donald Trump they will succeed.
Schmitz: I can’t help but ask. Do you know Trump?
Soros: Going back many years Donald Trump wanted me to be the lead tenant in one of his early buildings. He said: “I want you to come into the building. You name your price.” My answer was, “I’m afraid I can’t afford it.” And I turned him down.