Boris Johnson fails to show up at Luxembourg press conference for fear of being 'drowned out' by protesters

Boris Johnson fails to show up at Luxembourg press conference for fear of being 'drowned out' by protesters

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has left Luxembourg PM Xavier Bettel standing next to an empty podium after he failed to appear for a planned press conference.

A joint statement outside Luxembourg’s Ministry of State between Boris Johnson and counterpart Xavier Bettel was cancelled, amid the noise of pro-EU demonstrators.

Mr Johnson said the press conference with Luxembourg’s prime minister was cancelled over fears they would have been “drowned out” by pro-EU protesters.

“I don’t think it would’ve been fair to the Prime Minister of Luxembourg,” he said.

“I think there was clearly going to be a lot of noise.

“And I think our points might’ve been drowned out.”

Two lecterns had been set up on the ministry’s grounds in Luxembourg City where the media was waiting to hear the pair speak after a meeting.

But Mr Johnson decided to only give a statement to a small group of journalists assembled at the nearby residence of the British ambassador, after dozens of demonstrators with a loudspeaker heckled him from behind the gate

Luxembourg’s prime minister, speaking at his now solo press conference, said: “I know that the UK Government is unhappy with the Withdrawal Agreement as it stands.

“That’s why I thought it was important to speak to Prime Minister Johnson to get proposals.

“We need more than just words.”

There needed to be a legally operational text to work on “as soon as possible” if the October deadline was to be met, he added.

Xavier Bettel said: “Our people need to know what is going to happen to them in six weeks’ time. They need clarity, they need certainty and they need stability.

“You can’t hold their future hostage for party political gains.”

Gesturing to the empty podium where Boris Johnson should have been, Mr Bettel said: “Now it’s on Mr Johnson – he holds the future of all UK citizens and every EU citizen living in the UK in his hands.

“It’s his responsibility. Your people, our people, count on you – but the clock is ticking, use your time wisely.”

Mr Bettel, answering questions from reporters, said: “For me, I just have one Withdrawal Agreement on the table and it’s the one from last year.

“There are no changes. There are no concrete proposals for the moment on the table. And I won’t give an agreement to ideas. We need written proposals and the time is ticking.”

Mr Bettel told Mr Johnson to “stop speaking and act”, adding: “But we won’t accept any agreement that goes against a single market, who will be against the Good Friday Agreement.”

He added “solidarity” with Ireland is “strong” before noting: “This Brexit it’s not my choice.

“It’s been a decision from a party, a decision from David Cameron to do it. They decide, I deeply regret it but don’t put the blame on us because now they don’t know how to get out of this situation.”

Asked about offering the UK an extension to the transition period, Mr Bettel said what people wanted was certainty.

He said: “The fact is our citizens want to have certainty.

“As long as they don’t know what is going to happen they don’t know what will be their own future.

“So even we say it’s for one year or more, or two years and this time will be needed to find new decisions.

“This is a nightmare.”

Mr Bettel added: “People would love to have clarity, they would love to know what is going to happen.”

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