Boris Johnson ambushed by Luxembourg PM with empty podium ‘trick’
Tory MPs have voiced their anger at Luxembourg’s Prime Minister after he went ahead with a press conference without Boris Johnson.
Boris and Xavier Bettel had planned to address the nation together. But the British Prime Minister later cancelled due to a noisy anti-Brexit demonstration in Luxembourg City.
In his absence, Bettel proceeded to mock claims of Brexit progress and suggested that the future of UK citizens across the EU was being held hostage for ‘party political gains’.
The move did not go down well with Tories, with pro-Brexit MP Daniel Kawczynski calling the Luxembourg leader ‘disrespectful’.
He fumed online: ‘Luxembourg PM representing a nation smaller than Birmingham admonishing and being disrespectful to a British PM for trying to fulfil will of British people.
Very poor behaviour by Luxembourg #showoff @BorisJohnson quite right not to be made a fool of #franklyunhelpfulgrandstanding — Nicholas Soames (@NSoames) September 16, 2019
‘We need to pull out of EU on October 31 without doubt! We fund the EU to the tune of billions every year. Not sure what Luxembourg’s contribution has been.’
Former Brexit minister David Jones said Bettel had made a ‘big mistake’, adding that he thought the people of Luxembourg valued ‘their country’s important synergistic relationship with the City of London’.
He continued: ‘I have no doubt that very many Luxembourgers are dismayed by their Prime Minister’s extraordinary behaviour.’
Even Sir Nicholas Soames, who was among the 21 MPs to have lost the Conservative whip after rebelling over Brexit. Accused Bettel of ‘frankly unhelpful grandstanding’.
He wrote: ‘Very poor behaviour by Luxembourg. Boris Johnson quite right not to be made a fool of.’
While former defence minister Tobias Ellwood supported Boris’ decision to leave his podium empty, telling BBC2’s Newsnight: ‘You saw the atmosphere outside the meeting.
‘It is a bit like trying to conduct a press conference outside the Red Lion in Parliament Square. It is the not the appropriate place to do it and I am sorry the choreography wasn’t better handled.’
However he acknowledged Bettel’s speech was an illustration of ‘the frustration that we are all feeling’ over Brexit.
Boris was met by loud boos and shouts of ‘shame on you’ from protesters when he arrived for his meeting with Bettel earlier that day.
It is thought British officials then asked for the press conference to be moved inside. But they were reportedly told there was not enough space to accommodate all journalists present.
Boris Johnson ambushed
The no-show was then widely mocked on social media. With even Guy Verhofstadt, the chief Brexit representative for the European parliament, tweeting: ‘From Incredible Hulk to Incredible Sulk’.
His words follow Boris’ comments earlier this week that the UK would break free from the EU just like the Marvel Comics character.
He said: ‘Hulk always escaped, no matter how tightly bound in he seemed to be – and that is the case for this country.’