Boris Johnson fails to show for televised press conference with Luxembourg Prime Minister
The Prime Minister of Luxembourg held a “joint” press conference on Monday with Boris Johnson despite the absence of his British counterpart, who had been met with loud boos by anti-Brexit protesters when he arrived for his meeting with Prime Minister Xavier Bettel.
In a surreal scene, Bettel answered questions from journalists next to an empty podium where Boris Johnson was supposed to stand, but failed to show citing the noise being made by anti-Brexit protesters, who he said would drown out the press conference.
Xavier Bettel answered questions from journalists regardless, at one point, even gesturing towards Johnson’s the empty podium, while exhorting the British government to put forward concrete, written proposals for how to avoid a hard Brexit.
“Do not make the European Union the villain of history,” said Xavier Bettel, raising his tone. “Time is running out, stop talking, take action,” he said.
Neither the Commission nor the 27 “will never accept responsibility for the bazaar we are in,” added Xavier Bettel.
Bettel said the UK government needed to lay out on paper an alternative to the Irish backstop, and suggested that party political considerations might be standing in the way.
“You can’t hold the future hostage for party political gains,” Bettel said, to cheers from the anti-Brexit protesters.
According to the BBC, Boris Johnson had asked for the press conference to be moved inside due to the noise from protesters outside, but his request was reportedly rejected “for logistical reasons”.
The press conference was described as an “ambush” and an “humiliation” by the British eurosceptic Daily Telegraph, who said it will overshadow the earlier meeting with Jean-Claude Juncker,” which Downing Street had called ‘constructive’.
Despite the bad optics of his absence from the press conference Johnson stressed that there remained “Just enough time” to seal a divorce agreement and it was now necessary to “speed up the work”.