Boris Johnson mocked for dodging EU press conference at last minute amid loud protests

Boris Johnson was accused of 'bottling' a Brexit press conference today after not appearing at a joint statement with Luxembourg's prime minister due to noisy protests.

Boris Johnson was accused of bottling a Brexit press conference today after failing to appear alongside Luxembourg's prime minister due to noisy protests.

In a pointed gesture, Xavier Bettel delivered the press conference by himself with an empty podium where Mr Johnson was scheduled to have joined him, telling the absent British PM: "You can't hold a future hostage for party-political gains."

Mr Johnson had earlier been booed by crowds as he walked up to meet Mr Bettel with a handshake following before heading into the Ministry of State in Luxembourg City for discussions.

Demonstrators screamed "Stop the coup, tell the truth" and "Bog off, Boris".

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LUXEMBOURG, LUXEMBOURG - SEPTEMBER 16: Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel speaks to the media following talks with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on September 16, 2019 in Luxembourg, Luxembourg. Johnson met with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker for a working lunch earlier today. Johnson is pressing forward for a possible hard Brexit, though he has also been meeting with European leaders recently in an apparent effort to still strike a Brexit deal. (Photo by Joshua Sammer/Getty Images)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the UK ambassadors residence after meeting Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel in Luxembourg.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson arriving at the UK ambassador's residence after meeting Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel in Luxembourg.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson arriving for his meeting with Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel at the Ministry of State in Luxembourg. (Photo by Stefan Rousseau/PA Images via Getty Images)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is greeted by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, outside Le Bouquet Garni restaurant in Luxembourg, prior to a working lunch on Brexit. (Photo by Stefan Rousseau/PA Images via Getty Images)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, inside Le Bouquet Garni restaurant in Luxembourg, prior to a working lunch on Brexit. (Photo by Stefan Rousseau/PA Images via Getty Images)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker leaving Le Bouquet Garni restaurant in Luxembourg after their working lunch on Brexit. (Photo by Stefan Rousseau/PA Images via Getty Images)
LUXEMBOURG, LUXEMBOURG - SEPTEMBER 16: European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker greets British Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the European Commission Representation on September 16, 2019 in Luxembourg. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is holding his first meeting with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker in search of a Brexit deal. (Photo by Francisco Seco - Pool/Getty Images)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker leaving Le Bouquet Garni restaurant in Luxembourg after their working lunch on Brexit. (Photo by Stefan Rousseau/PA Images via Getty Images)
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 by Stefan Rousseau/PA Images via Getty Images)
LUXEMBOURG, LUXEMBOURG - SEPTEMBER 16: European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker (R) poses with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson prior to a meeting at a restaurant on September 16, 2019 in Luxembourg. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is holding his first meeting with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker in search of a Brexit deal. (Photo by Francisco Seco - Pool/Getty Images)
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 by Stefan Rousseau/PA Images via Getty Images)
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 by Stefan Rousseau/PA Images via Getty Images)
Protestors hold placards as they look on outside the venue for talks between the British Prime Minister and EU Commission president in Luxembourg on September 16, 2019. - Six weeks before he is due to lead Britain out of the European Union, Prime Minister Boris Johnson meets Jean-Claude Juncker, insisting that a Brexit deal is possible. Downing Street has confidently billed the Luxembourg visit as part of efforts to negotiate an orderly divorce from the union before an October 17 EU summit. (Photo by François WALSCHAERTS / AFP) (Photo credit should read FRANCOIS WALSCHAERTS/AFP/Getty Images)
Protestors hold placards as they look on outside the venue for talks between the British Prime Minister and EU Commission president in Luxembourg on September 16, 2019. - Six weeks before he is due to lead Britain out of the European Union, Prime Minister Boris Johnson meets Jean-Claude Juncker, insisting that a Brexit deal is possible. Downing Street has confidently billed the Luxembourg visit as part of efforts to negotiate an orderly divorce from the union before an October 17 EU summit. (Photo by François WALSCHAERTS / AFP) (Photo credit should read FRANCOIS WALSCHAERTS/AFP/Getty Images)
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Mr Johnson walked out afterwards without doing his promised appearance in front of the media.

Two lecterns had been set up on the ministry's grounds where the media was waiting to hear the pair speak after their meeting, which followed the British Prime Minister's lunch with Jean-Claude Juncker.

But Mr Johnson decided instead only to 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.

The BBC's political editor Laura Kuenssberg tweeted: "A source says No 10 asked for press conference inside so that the two leaders could be heard over the small but very noisy protest, but request was rejected and insisted on having it outside with the 2 podiums."

Boris Johnson recorded a clip for broadcasters in which he said the UK and EU have "just right amount of time" to get deal done by end of October.

Meanwhile, Mr Bettel, speaking next to an empty podium at his now solo press conference, said the "clock is ticking" and told Mr Johnson: "Stop speaking and act."

"Demonstrating is a right in democracy and it is also important to be able to exchange and listen to each other."

Asked about Mr Johnson's openness to breaking the law to deliver Brexit, he added that such a move from the government "wouldn't happen in Luxembourg".

"That's why I thought it was important to speak to Prime Minister Johnson to get proposals [for a Brexit deal]," he said.

"We need more than just words."

Mr Bettel also accused the Leave campaign, of which Mr Johnson was one of the most well-known figureheads, of lying during the Brexit referendum campaign.

"I remember that, before Brexit, people said to some voters that they will get money back for social insurances, that Brexit would be done in 24 hours and everything would be good," he said.

"There were a lot of things before the referendum that no one was able to say: 'Sorry, this is a lie.'"

There needed to be a legally operational text to work on "as soon as possible" if the October 31 deadline was to be met, Mr Bettel added.

- This article first appeared on Yahoo

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