Putin Goads Anti-Brexiteers: ‘Someone Disliked the Result, so Repeat It over and over? Is this Democracy?’

Putin
ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP/Getty Images
JACK MONTGOMERY

Russian president Vladimir Putin goaded British anti-Brexiteers campaigning for a re-run of EU referendum at his annual press conference in Moscow, asking: “Is this democracy?”

The 66-year-old strongman’s marathon televised press conferences have taken on a carnival atmosphere as they have become something of a yearly tradition, with dozens of journalists in attendance, some wearing flamboyant outfits or carrying eye-catching signs to capture their host’s attention.

It was likely inevitable that he would make some statement on Brexit, having been fingered as the chief culprit behind the 2016 vote to Leave the European Union by conspiracy theorists such as Damian CollinsBen Bradshaw, and Guardian/Observer journalist Carole “Codswallop” Cadwalladr, infamously described as a “mad cat woman” by BBC interrogator-in-chief Andrew Neil.

Some Remainers, such as neocon New Cold War author Edward Lucas, have even alluded to wild tales “floating round the shadowier corners of Whitehall” that Brexit campaign donations from businessman Arron Banks may have been provided by Putin in the form of precious stones, with the Leave.EU’s founder’s own diamond mines in South Africa and Lesotho being “clapped-out” front enterprises.

President Putin’s pronouncement on the anti-democratic nature of the anti-Brexiteers, when it came, seemed to be crafted with the intent of causing maximum aggravation, given his own less than permissive attitude to opposition politics.

“The referendum was held,” he stated bluntly. “What can [Prime Minister Theresa May] do? She has to fulfil the will of the people expressed in the referendum.”

Turning to the subject of the campaign for a so-called “People’s Vote”, which began life as a movement for a vote on the terms of Brexit but is now pushing openly for it to be overturned, he asked: “Was it not a referendum? Someone disliked the result, so repeat it over and over? Is this democracy? What then would be the point of the referendum in the first place and what is the sense of direct democracy?”

Naturally this incensed establishment Remainers such as former Labour foreign secretary David Miliband, who spluttered that it was “an insult to the United Kingdom that he should be lecturing us our democratic process” in a lengthy Twitter thread.

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