British Prime Minister falters after clash with EU and jogger

Cameron, EU and money in Russian media. Source: Getty Images

Cameron, EU and money in Russian media. Source: Getty Images

Russian media believe Britain is edging closer towards the EU exit door as Brussels bureaucrats present it with a shock £1.7 billion bill and a jogger jolts a prime minister already on shifting ground, Nick Holdsworth in Moscow finds.

British Prime Minister David Cameron has been in the wars.

The EU's £1.7 billion bill based on the success of its economy compared with others in Europe caught him on the hop just like the young man taking a run in Leeds Monday as the British leader left a speaking engagement.

Russian media, still smarting from the frequent lectures Mr. Cameron has been giving the Kremlin recently, were swift to jump on the premier's misfortunes.

RIA Novosti played the story straight, detailing Mr. Cameron's sober Commons statement: "The amount and the time frame set for its payments are unacceptable."

Going for broke

But sister site, RIA Novosti Radio took a more acerbic tack. Under a headline beginning "Game Over…" it asked: "Where will Cameron's confrontation with the EU end?”

Britain is "going for broke" in its row with the EU over finances and control of its own policies, the radio station continued in a story that gleefully wove in references to the EU's "Robin Hood polices" taking from the rich to give to the poor, before casually adding a punchline that has left the British reeling and pushed the country one step closer to leaving the EU altogether.

"The Commission is like Robin Hood, although in England they would take issue with that comparison," the station said.

"It also takes money from the rich to give to the poor. The comical situation is that according to European parameters, it turns out that Germany and even France have been doing worse…" and thus are in line for cash rebates.

EU collision course

Cameron is now on a direct collision course with the EU, it said, quoting EC budget commissioner Jacek Dominik threatening fines if Britain does not pay up by December: "If we revise the rules once, that will open up a Pandora's box," the Eurocrat said.

Russian media this week clearly have the bit between their teeth and are up for the chase.

"The Prime Minister cannot retreat," RIA Radio continued. "For him, this is probably the last and decisive battle. And for his seat too. UKIP leader Nigel Farage is already hard on the heels of the Conservatives."

Leonid Savin, the chief editor of Russian world politics journal Geopolitics, was succinct when asked what would happen if British voters reject Europe in next year's planned referendum on the country's continued membership of the EU.

"It will be a first step towards the eventual collapse of supranational entities. Other members may follow the path of Britain. In one way or another it will set a precedent," Savin said.

That could be music to the ears of many in the Kremlin, fed up by the west constantly claiming the moral high ground in the current chill in Russia's international relations.

And President Vladimir Putin's security detail will certainly have taken note of the stories and videos that spread like a rash across Russian television and internet sites Monday showing the moment a jogger ran into Mr. Cameron.

Russian security service

Russian history, peppered with assassinations of the great and the good, means the Commander in Chief's security is treated differently that in Britain, where successive leaders have resisted security that is too restrictive, believing that their democratic mandate means they must be closer to the people.

The KGB's 9th Directorate looked after Soviet leaders and continues to watch over Russia's president as part of the FSB security service today.

Working on the principle of "better safe than sorry" a team of security men provide round the clock protection, with four rings starting with a personal bodyguard and ending with rooftop snipers when he is out and about in public.

Work on scouting foreign locations begins six weeks before an overseas visit with no stone left unturned.

Mr. Cameron's guards may face the music for their lapse. It is only 30 years since the IRA failed to kill Margaret Thatcher in the Brighton Bombing.

The only prime minister ever assassinated, Spencer Perceval, was felled by a pistol shot in the lobby of the House of Commons in May 1812.

The FSB claims to have neutralised several plots on Mr. Putin's life and a few years ago photographers who got too close in Sochi suddenly found the red dots of laser sniper rifle sites decorating their foreheads, as Komsomolskaya Pravda once reported.

Russian readers and viewers may pity Mr. Cameron. The last security scare for Mr. Putin was in Hannover, Germany in April 2013 when the aggressor, promptly tackled by guards, was not a dreadlocked jogger, but an attractive bare-breasted young woman from the Ukrainian feminist movement Femen.

The opinion of the writer may not necessarily reflect the position of RBTH.

Read more: UK-Russia crossviews

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