Cameron 'blackmailing' Europe with EU Referendum: Putin

Cameron 'blackmailing' Europe with EU Referendum: Putin
2 min read
18 June, 2016
Russian leader, Vladimir Putin has questioned David Cameron's intentions for the EU referendum, accusing the British PM of blackmail.
The Russian leader questioned the British PM's intentions for the referendum [Getty]

Britain's referendum on its EU membership is "blackmail" and an attempt to scare Europe, Russian President Vladimir Putin suggested on Friday.

Prime Minister David Cameron is holding the referendum despite opposing the decision to leave the EU, Putin claimed, going on to question the purpose of the debate.

"Why has he set up this referendum?" Putin asked during a meeting with the media.

To blackmail Europe? Or to scare it? What is the purpose if he himself is against" Britain leaving the European Union.

But the Russian leader slowly backtracked confirming that although he has an opinion on the topic,  he prefers not to share it publicly prior to the results.

"It's not our business, it is the business of the British people," he said, adding that predicting the outcome of the vote is impossible.

"Who can predict it? No one can predict.. I think it would be inappropriate for me to do that," the president added.

On June 23 Britain will vote on the controversial referendum to decipher whether to leave or remain the European Union after months of bitter debate between both camps.

But campaigning for the neck-and-neck referendum remains suspended till Saturday as declared by Cameron, who made the decision in response to the murder of pro-EU lawmaker Jo Cox.

"Some experts say a Brexit [Britain's exit] will be to the detriment of Europe," Putin added.

"But others say that the EU will be more stable," he said, highlighting the complications of the debate when "all things are considered."

Last month, the British PM raised the stakes on the membership debate by suggesting leaving the bloc would increase the risk of war in Europe.

"Britain has a fundamental national interest in maintaining common purpose in Europe to avoid future conflict between European countries," he said.

Cameron argued that "isolationism has never served this country well. Whenever we turn our back on Europe, sooner or later we come to regret it."