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Vladimir Putin states David Cameron may have called EU referendum to ‘blackmail Europe’

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Vladimir Putin has waded into the Brexit debate by suggesting that David Cameron may have called the EU referendum “to blackmail Europe” or “scare someone”.

The Russian president, in his first comments on the issue questioned why the Prime Minister had called a referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union in the first place.

“There is a great problem with Brexit, why did he initiate this vote in the first place? Why did he do that? So he wanted to blackmail Europe or to scare someone, what was the goal if he was against?” Mr Putin said, according to the Press Association, on Friday night.

He denied suggestions that Russia would benefit from Britain’s possible decision to leave the European Union.

Speaking at a meeting with the leaders of major international news agencies, Mr Putin said he had an opinion on the matter but would not voice it because it is not “our business at all – it is the business of the people of the UK”.

“Who can predict it? No one can predict it. I have my own opinion on this matter – whether it is good or bad – but I will refrain from giving the forecast. I think it would be improper on my part to do that.

“Whatever I say will be interpreted to the benefit of either side, that’s the business of the EU and the people of the UK.

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