Boris Johnson empty chaired in Luxembourg press conference after pulling out due to loud protesters

Luxembourg's Prime Minister Xavier Bettel, right, addresses a media conference next to an empty lectern intended for British Prime Minister Boris Johnson after a meeting at the prime ministers office in Luxembourg. Photo: AP Photo/Olivier Matthys
Luxembourg's Prime Minister Xavier Bettel, right, addresses a media conference next to an empty lectern intended for British Prime Minister Boris Johnson after a meeting at the prime ministers office in Luxembourg. Photo: AP Photo/Olivier Matthys
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Boris Johnson was empty chaired by the Prime Minister of Luxembourg after he pulled out of a joint press conference because of protesters outside the country's Ministry of State.

The Prime Minister was in Luxembourg today for bilateral meetings with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and Prime Minister Xavier Bettel.

But after the meetings a joint statement between Mr Johnson and counterpart Xavier Bettel was cancelled, amid the noise of pro-EU demonstrators.

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 loud speaker heckled him from behind the gate.

Mr Johnson said: "I don't think it would have been fair to the Prime Minister of Luxembourg. I think there was clearly a lot of noise and our points might have been drowned out."

Protesters outside the Luxembourg Ministry of State in Luxembourg, prior to a meeting between Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel. Photo: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

Protesters outside the Luxembourg Ministry of State in Luxembourg, prior to a meeting between Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel. Photo: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

Mr Bettel, speaking at his now solo press conference, 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."

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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."

Mr Bettel said the EU side would not be to blame if the two sides were unable to reach agreement on a new Brexit deal.

"Some people would love to give the blame to another and not be responsible for the situation," he said.

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"Theresa May accepted the Withdrawal Agreement. So don't make it like the European Union is the bad guy not accepting decisions the UK proposes. They accepted them.

"These are home-made problems. I won't accept any time to be responsible as a European leader... for, I am sorry, the mess we are in for the moment."

Speaking separately Mr Johnson denied the UK's attempts at negotiations were a sham and said there is still "hard work to be done" in securing a fresh deal.

"I don't know who you've been talking to but that's not what our interlocutors at EU heads of government level think at all. They know that we're all working very hard to get a deal," he said.

"This is a difficult moment because clearly we're very, very keen to do it but I don't want people to think it's necessarily in the bag.

"It isn't necessarily in the bag, there will be hard work to be done."

Mr Johnson also said the UK would be leaving the EU on October 31 "deal or no deal", despite the so-called Benn Act to avoid a no-deal.