Vladimir Putin has taken a swipe at outgoing Prime Minister David Cameron who he says tried to influence the British people by saying the Russian President wanted a Brexit. Just hours after Cameron gave an emotive speech outside No. 10 announcing he will be stepping down the Russia premier stuck the boot in — saying that he displayed "a low degree of political etiquette".
The historic vote to leave the EU was confirmed in the early hours of Friday 24 June ending 43 years of union between the UK and mainland Europe. As shock waves reverberated from Westminster to Holyrood the pound plummeted to its lowest rate on the dollar in 32 years and SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon began the process for another Scottish referendum.
European leaders like French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed their disappointment and sadness at the result. But the Kremlin said the outcome of the referendum showed the British population's unhappiness with migration, security worries and anger at EU bureaucracy.
Speaking in Uzbekistan on Friday, the Russian president said according to Newsweek: "The statements of the British Prime Minister Cameron prior to this vote, in which he claimed to voice the position of Russia, has no basis. I think this was nothing but a wrongful attempt to influence public opinion in his country."
"This is nothing but a display of a low degree of political etiquette," Putin said, Russian news agency Interfax reported. "We in no way interfered in this, are interfering or planning to interfere."
The strongman leader affirmed that a Brexit will have both positive and negative consequences for Russia with the "world situation" correcting itself after time.
Bloomberg news quoted Putin as saying that "arrogance and a superficial approach to vital questions" shown by British leadership led to difficulties in their own country and the EU. He continued: "This is the choice of the people of Great Britain. People backed Brexit because they don't want to subsidise weaker countries' economies and are worried about security and immigration".
In April Putin scored better than Cameron in an international poll asking which world leader has what it takes to solve the Syrian refugee crisis. The Russian President ranked third behind Angela Merkel and Barack Obama in a survey conducted across six countries.